According to a news release sent at 5:23 p.m. today from the Shreveport Fire Department Stephen St. John, a 17-year veteran communications officer, was placed on paid leave by Shreveport Fire Chief Ronald C. Mulford.
Ten minutes later, a news release from the office of United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley stated an initial appearance and arraignment hearing had been held for St. John, 45, before Magistrate Judge Mark L. Hornsby for possessing and receiving child pornography.
St. John pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, according to the release.
The news release indicates there was an indictment, which indicated St. John knowingly received child pornography on a computer on January 29, 2013. The images were video files depicting minors and prepubescent children engaging in sexually explicit conduct and lascivious exhibition of the genitals and pubic area. Additionally, images of child pornography were found in his possession on a computer and computer disks on September 5, 2013.
An indictment, however, is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If found guilty, the defendant faces up to 20 years in prison for one count of possession of child pornography and from five to 20 years in prison for one count of receiving child pornography. He faces three years of supervised release for each count. He also faces a $250,000 fine for each count and forfeiture of the equipment used to acquire, store and view the child pornography.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service and the Louisiana State Police investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan is prosecuting the case.
The fire department’s news release said St. John will be on paid leave until an internal investigation of the alleged policy violations can be completed.
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