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MAN GUILTY IN CHILD PORN CASE

The convicted sex offender tried to produce child pornography with an 11-year-old girl.

A federal jury found a St. Petersburg man guilty of attempting to produce child pornography Tuesday.

Samuel Darryl Matthews, 54, is facing a mandatory 35-year prison sentence due to his past convictions. This is Matthews' third conviction on sex crime charges involving young children.

According to court testimony, Matthews became obsessed with the 11-year-old sister of his roommate's god-daughter. He began asking the roommate to take naked pictures of her.

The roommate, a convicted sex offender named Freddie Harvey, grew concerned and contacted law enforcement in May.

The FBI's innocent images task force set up an undercover sting operation with a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective posing as the mother of an 11-year-old girl.

The detective told Matthews she would allow him to take naked pictures of her daughter in return for cash. She recorded their telephone conversations, which were played in court.

When authorities arrested Matthews at a McDonald's restaurant in Brandon, they found three cameras and undergarments for the little girl in his car, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachelle DesVaux Bedke.

Matthews' first conviction for sexual crimes involving children came in 1983, when he pleaded guilty to sexual battery on a child under 11 and lewd and lascivious assault. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Matthews was arrested again in 1999 and charged with using a computer to receive and distribute child pornography. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara is scheduled to sentence Matthews for the latest conviction on Oct. 19.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at (813) 226-3416 or cweimar@sptimes.com.

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