A U.S. District Court judge sentenced Joél-Léhi Organista to 15 years in federal prison Wednesday, after the former Salt Lake City school board member pleaded guilty in January to federal charges for production and distribution of child pornography.
Organista, 30 — who resigned from the school board in 2021 — will also be required to register as a sex offender and complete 15 years of supervised release after his incarceration.
As special conditions of his supervised release, Organista isn’t allowed to have contact with individuals who are under 18 years old without adult supervision. Plus, all of his devices with access to the Internet will be subject to random inspections and searches, as well as having monitoring software installed at his expense. He will be required to complete sex-offender treatment.
Organista had also pleaded guilty in November to two state-level charges: one first-degree felony for aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and one second-degree felony for enticing a minor by Internet or text. Nine other counts, including object rape of a child, were dropped.
Organista was sentenced in January in the state case to no less than 15 years in prison. The court ordered that his federal prison sentence run concurrently with his state sentence, which arose from the same investigation.
Organista was first elected to the school board in fall 2020 and previously volunteered at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. The interactions with minors and downloads occurred between January 2021 — when Organista took his position on the school board — and June 2021, according to court documents.
He was arrested after officers received a tip that he had downloaded and saved files containing child pornography on a Dropbox account.
In searching his computer, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah in January, officers reported finding up to 150 images and videos of exploited minors.
Police also said that in searching Organista’s other devices, including his phone, they discovered a Snapchat account in which Organista had been communicating directly with children who identified themselves as between ages 12 and 17.
Organista allegedly asked for naked photos and “direct[ed] the children to do sexual acts.” Investigators say that Organista recorded some of one of those interactions, with a boy under the age of 14.
District spokesperson Yándary Chatwin has previously said “as far as we’re aware,” none of the kids pictured in the images were Salt Lake City School District students.