Timothy Alan Fortenberry, 26, was convicted of three counts of receiving child pornography via the internet and one count of possessing child pornography following a three-day trial and the return of guilty verdicts by a federal jury in December 2007. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt sentenced Fortenberry to168 months in prison and a life term of supervised release under the supervision of the court. Fortenberry must register as a sex offender, and for the rest of his life, he must stay at least 100 feet from areas primarily used by children under the age of 18, such as playgrounds and schools; and he may not seek employment or volunteer in any program involving children.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Houston and Newark, N.J. The investigation began in October 2005 when ICE agents in New Jersey found an illegal child pornography website. An undercover agent purchased a membership to the site and, after entering the site, discovered it contained thousands of images of child pornography.
ICE agents in New Jersey obtained a court order to intercept the website email account. On Jan. 28, 2006, agents intercepted one of several e-mails from Fortenberry's email account seeking a subscription to the child pornography website. ICE Newark determined the email account was, Fortenberry's at his Houston address.
ICE agents conducted an examination of a server for the illegal child pornography website located in McLean, Va., in February and March 2006. During this examination, log files showed Fortenberry's email had accessed the site on Jan. 30, Jan.31 and Feb.1, 2006. The log files also showed Fortenberry had viewed or downloaded 2,312 images of child pornography from the site. In July 2006, ICE Newark forwarded the information to ICE agents in Houston.
In October 2006, ICE agents in Houston executed a federal search warrant at Fortenberry's residence and seized a Dell computer and a homemade computer. Fortenberry was present during the search and confirmed his screen name, password and credit card, but denied ever having seen child pornography.
A forensic analysis on the seized computers conducted by ICE agents found more than 1500 images and 45 videos of child pornography on Fortenberry's computers, including some images from the illegal child pornography website. The images included adult males engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex with prepubescent females and toddlers.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,500 individuals, including more than 1,090 in Texas.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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 www.cybertipline.com.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.