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Child Exploitation
08/11/2010

North Carolina man sentenced to 24 years in prison for possession of child porn

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Albert Charles Burgess, 60, was sentenced Aug. 11, to 24 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for possessing and receiving child pornography following a joint U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigation.

The court also ordered that Burgess pay restitution of more than $300,000 to one of the victims of his crime. Burgess was already a registered sex offender at the time of his offense.

"Predators who think that they can hide behind the anonymity of cyberspace are sorely mistaken," said Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Homeland Security Investigations in North Carolina. "Today's sentence is a true testament to the unrelenting commitment of both law enforcement and prosecutors in Charlotte to protect the most vulnerable among us - our children."

"We announced a week ago that we're ramping up our investigations and prosecutions in these types of cases. I am very pleased that the close cooperation between federal and state authorities helped obtain this conviction and lengthy sentence," said U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins. "Today's sentence of 24 years' imprisonment is an important vindication for victims of this man's crimes. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for their commitment and unwavering efforts in the investigation and prosecution of this case."

Burgess was convicted by a jury on Nov. 18, 2009, on two counts; one count of possession of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, and a second count of receipt of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

According to evidence presented during the trial, the case arose as the result of a local investigation which stemmed from a federal law enforcement operation known as "Project Flicker," an international investigation into commercial child pornography websites.

Evidence presented at trial and at today's sentencing hearing showed that Burgess was identified as an individual who paid money to join a commercial child pornography website, which was part of the Project Flicker investigation.

Law enforcement agencies executed a federal search warrant at Burgess's residence in March 2008, and found a computer and 327 CD's that contained images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children as young as five years old. The search warrant, according to the evidence, turned up a total of 791 videos and 4,734 images of child pornography in Burgess's home. Agents testified at the trial that Burgess stated that he viewed child pornography on a daily basis.

Further, according to statements made to the court at the sentencing hearing, Burgess's involvement in this crime went back to 2000 when he paid to join a child pornography website. Statements made in open court revealed that Burgess had also joined another child pornography website in 2006 or 2007.

The record from the sentencing hearing shows that Burgess has a long criminal history with convictions for child sexual molestation in 1971 and in 1985. According to statements made at the hearing, during the investigation of this federal case, Burgess admitted to federal agents that he had molested between 40 and 50 boys prior to 1985.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimlani M. Ford and Cortney Escaravage for the Western District of North Carolina.

Burgess has remained in local federal custody since April 16, 2009. Upon designation of a federal facility by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), he will be transferred BOP custody. Federal terms of imprisonment are served without the possibility of parole.