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Child Exploitation
09/15/2011

Orange County sex offender faces 26-year sentence after pleading guilty to child pornography charges

LOS ANGELES — A previously convicted sex offender from Huntington Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty Thursday to production of child pornography and agreed to serve a 26-year prison term for filming an 8-year-old girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Gary Samuel Cochran, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years in federal prison. But in a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Cochran and prosecutors agreed to a 312-month prison sentence.

The case against Cochran stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with substantial assistance provided by the Signal Hill Police Department.

In the plea agreement, Cochran admits he produced sexually explicit videos of the 8-year-old victim while on a trip to the beach with the girl and her family. When authorities searched Cochran's residence in 2008, they discovered the videos of the victim, as well as "hundreds of videos and images depicting what the defendant knew was child pornography."

"Because children are the most precious and vulnerable members of our communities, we will devote everything at our disposal to combat their exploitation," said U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. "Lengthy prison sentences are warranted when predators such as Mr. Cochran victimize young children and devastate families."

"This sentence should serve as a sobering warning about the serious consequences facing those who sexually exploit innocent children," said Marlon V. Miller, deputy special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles. "Serial pedophiles and others who think they can prey upon young people with impunity should be on notice that ICE Homeland Security Investigations will do everything in its power and use every tool at its disposal to track you down and see that you are brought to justice."

Cochran was convicted of child molestation in Orange County Superior Court in 1991.

Cochran pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement that calls for a 26-year prison term. However, United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson must accept the plea agreement, which calls on the court to impose the agreed-upon sentence. If Judge Pregerson rejects the stipulated sentence, either the government or the defendant could back out of the agreement, and the case would proceed to trial.

Following Cochran's guilty plea, Judge Pregerson scheduled a sentencing hearing for November 28.

Cochran was one of 52 defendants charged in 2008 as part of a coordinated sweep that targeted individuals using peer-to-peer networks to exchange child pornography.