A sex offender will spend at least seven-and-a-half years in prison after a probation officer discovered child pornography on the Haywood County man’s phone.
Ronald Lee Smith, 50, this month in Haywood County Superior Court pleaded guilty to nine counts third-degree exploitation of a minor, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.
“This office has zero tolerance for people who possess child porn,” she said. “We prosecute these cases vigorously to both protect future victims and protect the community.”
Maggie Valley police arrested Smith in March of this year.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bradley B. Letts sentenced Smith to a minimum active term of 10 months in prison for each count of possessing sexually explicit photos of children.
He ordered the sentences be served consecutively, or one after the other.
Smith could serve as much as 15 years and nine months in prison. In North Carolina, felons must serve entire minimum sentences; conduct while serving determines whether maximum sentences are imposed.
In May 2017, Smith pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and, in 2018, to failure to register sex offender.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones prosecuted the case.