Petal man to serve five years for child exploitation

By HASKEL BURNS,

A Petal man will serve five years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of child exploitation, a result of a statewide operation led by the Cyber Crimes Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Wednesday that her office secured a conviction of 34-year-old Samuel Blake Cascio, who was arrested in October 2018 during Operation Trick or Treat. In addition to the five years of incarceration, Cascio will serve five years under supervision upon his release.

He also is required to pay a $1,000 fine to the Office of the Attorney General Victims Compensation Fund and another $1,000 to the Mississippi Department of Human Services Children’s Trust Fund. Cascio must register as a sex offender and forfeit his rights to assets obtained during the investigation.

"I want to thank the men and women of our Cyber Crime Division and our partners at the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations for all of their hard work during this operation," Fitch said in a statement. "I will continue to do everything in my power to bring those like Mr. Cascio, who exploit children, to justice."

Cascio’s arrest was one of eight made during Operation Trick or Treat, in which then-Attorney General Jim Hood’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force worked in conjunction with local agencies to make arrests around the state. All but one of the suspects was charged with child exploitation for the alleged possession of child pornography.