GREAT FALLS — Joshua Dean Fish of Arizona, accused of coercing minor girls to send him sexually explicit images of themselves and of receiving child pornography, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Great Falls.
Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release that Fish, 27 years old, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and to receipt of child pornography.
The government alleged in court documents that in January 2020, the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office received a report of online sexually explicit activity involving two children who were under the age of 18. An investigation identified Fish as the person who was offering to pay for the sexually explicit images. Prior to mid-2018, Fish resided in Montana.
The two child victims, one residing in Butte and the other in Helena, reported that an online user promised monetary digital payments in exchange for nude images that would be sent through the internet. Both child victims sent Fish sexually explicit images of themselves.
The government also alleged that an investigation by Arizona law enforcement via a tip to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children involving sending and receiving child pornography through a social media application led to Fish.
In June 2020, officers searched Fish’s residence and interviewed him. Fish admitted he paid minor girls for nude images, which were sent to him online, and to possessing numerous hard drives containing child pornography. During an examination of digital devices seized during the search, law enforcement found hundreds of thousands of images and video files of child pornography.
Fish faces a mandatory minimum 15 years to 40 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years to life of supervised release on each sexual exploitation charge, and a mandatory minimum five years to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years to life of supervised release on the receipt of child pornography charge.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided and set sentencing for September 23, and continued Fish’s detention pending further proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Gilbert (Arizona) Police Department.