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Child Exploitation

Maryland man sentenced to 8 years in prison for child pornography receipt and possession

GREENBELT, Md. – Charles Johnson, 70, of Rockville, Md., was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. to eight years in prison followed by supervised release for life, for receipt and possession of child pornography. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Judge Williams also ordered Johnson to pay a $20,000 fine and ordered that upon his release from prison Johnson 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 testimony at the three day trial, Johnson was identified during an HSI national operation targeting individuals accessing a website hosting child pornography. Between March 15 and 19, 2010, Johnson accessed 115 pages displaying images of child pornography. Witnesses testified that during the execution of a search warrant, Johnson confessed to downloading child pornography. More than 300 images of child pornography were found on Johnson's computer. Johnson also provided access to his email account. Dozens of emails were identified in which Johnson engaged in online chats and exchanged stories about the raping of children.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and DOJ's 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, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.

This case was brought as a part of HSI's Operation Gondola, which originated with the National Centre for Combating Pedophilia Online located within the Italian State Police Postal and Communication Service. Italian law enforcement identified a website offering access to child pornographic images and/or video files identified by the domain name "liberalmorality.com." The website was hosted in the United States and HSI obtained Internet records showing each Internet account that accessed the website over a four day period and the specific images each account accessed. Accounts were identified and linked back to the users, who were investigated for receiving and possessing child pornography. To date, there have been 69 criminal arrests, 54 indictments, 47 convictions, 244 seizures and 117 search warrants executed in the United States as part of HSI's Operation Gondola.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas, assigned from DOJ's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mara Zusman Greenberg.