File Photo/Herald-Chronicle

Wayne White
| Managing Editor

OSAGE CITY—A former Osage City councilman was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on two counts of receiving or distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

The FBI arrested Jason Croucher, 26, at 834 Main St., Osage City, Friday, according to Osage City police. A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office Monday said Croucher’s residence was in Osage City, although his place of residence could not be confirmed.

Croucher was released from custody Friday, pending trial on the crimes, which the indictment said occurred on or about May 11, 2009, May 14, 2009, and June 22, 2009.

According to Jim Cross, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney in the District of Kansas, Croucher was released according to conditions set by the U.S. District Court of Topeka, and no bond was set.

“He will be reporting his whereabouts to the court,” Cross said Monday. “He will be supervised during the time he is released pending trial.”

Thomas Haney, Topeka, confirmed Monday he had been retained as Croucher’s attorney. Haney said Croucher “would not want to make a statement” about the charges, but noted the indictment “only involves the use of the Internet.”

Haney described the indictment as serious, but said, “[Croucher] is not charged with abuse of children or trying to entice any children. There was no direct communication with any children or attempt to communicate with any children.”

Court docket notes indicate the court entered not guilty pleas on all counts for Croucher, who remained silent.

The indictment, which was issued by the grand jury June 2, says Croucher “did knowingly and intentionally receive and distribute, by computer, visual depictions of minors, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct …”

The third count of the indictment alleges Croucher possessed one or more matters which contained visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch requests in the indictment that if Croucher is convicted of the crimes, that he forfeit an Apple laptop computer, a Dell desktop computer, and an iPod Nano.

If convicted, Croucher faces a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count of receiving and distributing child pornography, and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the possession charge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hart is prosecuting the case.

On June 22, 2009, witnesses observed FBI agents at Croucher’s then-residence in Osage City. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn confirmed at the time she had been requested to assist the FBI at the residence, but declined to state the reason for the FBI’s visit. The FBI refused to confirm or deny whether an investigation was ongoing and declined to give a reason for their presence at the residence.

Croucher resigned as a member of the Osage City Council on July 21, 2009, without giving a reason. He was elected to the position in April 2007. Croucher had been an employee at The Osage County Herald-Chronicle until he resigned in June 2008.

The case is being prosecuted as part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood, introduced in 2006 to combat the increase of sexual predators using the Internet to entice and sexually exploit children.