Anthony Allen Armstrong, 38, of Chipley, Fla., pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2011. The sentence of nine years and two months handed down by U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller falls just shy of the 10-year maximum prescribed by law for each charge and was agreed upon by the parties as part of a written plea agreement.
The investigation of Armstrong began in December 2010, when HCSO officers received a tip that marijuana was being cultivated on a piece of property in Cottonwood, Ala. When officers arrived, they found dozens of marijuana plants growing inside a homemade greenhouse and Armstrong in possession of the property. Investigators subsequently learned that, in 2004, Armstrong had been convicted in Florida for engaging in unlawful sexual activity with two 17-year-old girls. Under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and as a result of his convictions, Armstrong was required to register as a convicted sex offender in the jurisdiction in which he lived. The USMS determined that Armstrong had been living at the Cottonwood address since March 2010 and that he had not notified authorities in either Alabama or Florida.
When questioned, Armstrong admitted that he had not registered as a sex offender in Alabama and further admitted that he was in possession of child pornography. A laptop computer and several CDs that were seized from his trailer were later analyzed and found to contain more than three dozen videos depicting children as young as infants and toddlers being sexually abused.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was able to identify the child victims in nine of the videos Armstrong possessed. Pursuant to the plea agreement and as part of his sentence, Armstrong agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution to one of the victims.
"ICE HSI will aggressively use its investigative authorities to identify and arrest individuals who seek to sexually exploit children in this manner," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New Orleans. "Along with our law enforcement partners at the Houston County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Attorney's office, we are committed to protecting our communities by bringing to justice these child predators, who are a direct threat to our youth." Parmer oversees responsibility for the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Even though his federal case is complete, Armstrong still faces prosecution in Houston County for trafficking in marijuana. He has been incarcerated on those charges since his arrest in 2010. Any sentence Armstrong might ultimately receive in state court must be served in its entirety before his federal sentence begins, as Judge Fuller specifically ordered that the federal sentence run consecutively.
As part of his plea deal, Armstrong will spend the rest of his life on supervised release, with tight restrictions on his ability to interact with minors or use a computer. Judge Fuller also ordered Armstrong to seek treatment for substance abuse and sexual offending, both while he is in prison and after he is released.
This investigation part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.