A Luling doctor, David Sampognaro, 44, was indicted by a grand jury on 21 counts possession of child pornography. According to St. Charles Parish District Attorney's Office, "The pornographic images were in the form of video and still photographs."
Answering the indictment on Tuesday, as Sampognaro was arraigned, he entered a plea of not guilty.
Sampognaro’s attorney Randy Smith said, “He is absolutely not guilty of these charges.”
“The investigation started on the federal side; it came through the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. They looked at this case for 18 months.... After a full review, there was no basis to pursue the charges,” said Smith, adding that his client was completely cooperative throughout the process.
Smith said that Sampognaro has been under the scutiny of authorities since 2004.
Sampognaro's arrest came from a state-issued warrant, although a multitude of agencies were involved.
According to reports from the D.A.’s office, the sheriff’s office and U.S. Immigration, the indictment stems from a raid of Sampognaro's home on January 13, when police officials seized 58 digital files of child pornography from his computer. The raid was part of an operation executed by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Louisiana Attorney General's Office and deputies from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.
"During the search, several items were seized, including Dr. Sampognaro's home computer, related storage media and documents. A subsequent forensic analysis revealed that Dr. Sampognaro had images of child pornography stored in his computer. During two separate interviews with authorities, Dr. Sampognaro discussed his child pornography activities," according to U.S. Immigration Officials.
Another problem Smith says is that Samponaro’s life is in limbo while he fights these charges, which he feels have gone on for too long. “He is on forced leave from his job; he is not getting paid; it hard on his wife and kids,” said Smith.
"Child pornography data stored on computers ultimately leads us to find and arrest predators who harm children," said Michael A. Holt, special agent-in-charge of ICE in New Orleans. "ICE will continue to work with State's Attorneys General and local sheriff's offices and police departments to hold accountable those who prey on the most vulnerable in our society."
The arrest of Sampognaro was part of Operation Predator, an initiative headed by U.S. Immigration that targets. Operation Predator has netted 26 arrests in Louisiana.
|By The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office|
|David Sampognaro, 44, Luling|