Federal authorities have taken over the prosecution of a Blairsville man, who was charged by Indiana County investigators in November with production of child pornography.
A grand jury has indicted Charles Payson III, of 105 E. Campbell St., on counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and distribution and possession of exploitative materials.
According to the indictment, Payson, 45, produced images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct in August 2010, then possessed the digital images in computer, camera and cellphone files from 2010 through Nov. 24, and distributed the image files on or about Nov. 7 through 9.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton, of the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced the indictment in a news release issued Wednesday.
The case came to light when online crime investigator Robert Erdely, a detective in the Indiana County district attorney’s office, traced the pornographic images to Payson’s computer on Nov. 17, leading to a raid and search of Payson’s home on Nov. 24. Payson originally was charged with 22 felony counts related to production of child pornography and a misdemeanor charge of tampering with evidence.
Under the three-count federal indictment, Payson faces maximum penalties of 60 years in prison and fines totaling $750,000, upon conviction.
The state-level charges, which typically are dropped in favor of federal prosecution, remain on the Indiana County Common Pleas Court docket, and online court records show Payson is being held in Indiana County Jail on $50,000 bond.