AMARILLO, Texas – A man from the Texas panhandle appeared in federal court Friday and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson to one count of possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Anthony Zane Austin, 20, of Childress, Texas, was remanded into custody. A sentencing date was not set. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release.
According to plea documents filed in the case, Austin installed file-sharing programs on computers in his residence and then used the programs to download pornographic images and videos, which included child pornography, onto those computers. He then copied the sexually explicit images onto a thumb drive to save them.
The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Lubbock Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy, of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, is in charge of the prosecution.
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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.