BALTIMORE – Craig Allen James, 24, of Laurel, Md., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III to six years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for distributing child pornography.
The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Maryland State Police.
Judge Russell ordered that upon his release from prison, James must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
According to the plea agreement, James was an active duty enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force assigned to Ft. Meade, where he resided until May 11. On May 3, 2011, the Maryland State Police was conducting an undercover investigation to identify people possessing and sharing child pornography using file sharing programs that allow individuals to receive and make available to others, files on their computer. During the investigation, an undercover officer identified James as using such a program and downloaded 23 files, images and videos, all of which depicted children, including prepubescent children, engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
On July 14, 2011, a search warrant was executed at James' Ft. Meade dormitory room and on his computers and other digital media. Investigators discovered at least two of the files downloaded by the undercover officer on James' personal computer, as well as other images of child pornography. James admitted that he received and shared child pornography via the Internet.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney P. Michael Cunningham.