SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

A federal grand jury indicted two men on Tuesday for unrelated crimes of making child pornography.  Both cases are part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing number of cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Ronald Mazza, 33, of Springfield, is charged in a three-count indictment. Investigators believe Mazza used two minors, a boy and a girl, to produce child pornography between Aug. 1 and Dec. 1, 2013.  He’s also charged with one count of receiving and distributing child porn over the Internet in the same time period. Springfield police officers and FBI agents investigated the case.

If he’s convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. He’s in the Greene County jail.

Dennis Whitaker, 53, of Ozark, is charged in a two-count indictment. Investigators believe Whitaker used two minors, also a boy and a girl, to produce child pornography between Jan. 1, 2010, and Jan. 1, 2013, in Stone and Taney counties.
If Whitaker is convicted, he also would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. Stone County sheriff’s deputies and Ozark police officers investigated the case.

Whitaker also was charged last Dec. 30 in Taney County with state crimes. Those include two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, statutory sodomy, and two counts of first-degree child molestation. He’s in the Taney County jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond after being arrested in Greene County on New Year’s Eve.