Clovis man pleads guilty to distributing and receiving child pornography

Defendant prosecuted under Project Safe Childhood

Spencer C. Lovato, 26, of Clovis pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque to an indictment charging him with two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography.

At sentencing, Lovato faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Lovato will also be required to register as a sex offender. Lovato has been in custody since his arrest in April 2017. He will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

The FBI arrested Lovato in April 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with child pornography offenses in Dec. 2016, in Curry and San Miguel Counties, N.M. According to the complaint, the investigation leading to Lovato’s arrest began in Dec. 2016, when the FBI received a report about video and image files containing child pornography that were being shared by individuals on an online messaging platform. During the investigation, the FBI obtained two IP addresses, email accounts and telephone account records identifying Lovato as the subscriber of accounts used to distribute and receive child pornography.

Lovato subsequently was charged in a three-count indictment on May 9, 2017, with distributing child pornography on Dec. 27, 2016, in Curry County, and with distributing and receiving child pornography on Jan. 5, 2017, in New Mexico.

During today’s proceedings, Lovato pled guilty to all three counts of the indictment. In entering the guilty plea, Lovato admitted that on Dec. 27, 2016, he sent a message on his phone that included a digital video of a minor involved in sexually explicit conduct. Lovato also admitted that on Jan. 5, 2017, he sent a message and received a message that included digital videos of minors involved in sexually explicit conduct.

This case was investigated by the Santa Fe office of the FBI and the Clovis Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. Individuals with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse are encouraged to contact the Children’s Advocacy Center at (575) 526-3437, or to contact Homeland Security Investigations at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

The case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 86 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.