MISSOULA — A Columbia Falls man who admitted soliciting sexually explicit images of a minor girl through his Facebook account and mobile phone pleaded guilty on Monday to sexual exploitation of a child, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Todd Louis Pajnich, 30, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Kathleen L. DeSoto, who will recommend his plea be accepted by Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, who is hearing the case.
Pajnich faces a minimum mandatory 15 years to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least five years to a lifetime of supervised release. Pajnich was detained pending further proceedings. Sentencing was set for March 27, 2020.
In court records filed in the case, the prosecution said that beginning in January, Pajnich started communicating on Facebook with a 10-year-old girl. In April, Facebook reported potential online sexual exploitation involving the girl’s and Pajnich’s accounts.
A law enforcement investigation found records in which Pajnich asked the girl her age and that she told him she was 13. Pajnich then asked the girl to send him sexually explicit images of herself.
He sent the victim sexually explicit images of a male, purportedly of himself, and encouraged girl to send him sexually explicit images of herself, which she did. Pajnich admitted to law enforcement that he knew the victim was a child and that he solicited sexually explicit images of her.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.