HOUSTON - A U.S. Navy "JAG" officer was sentenced on Friday to 10 years and five months in federal prison following his convictions for receiving and distributing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD).
A CCPD detective, while acting in an undercover capacity, initiated an investigation into the online activities of persons distributing child pornography via peer-to-peer software. On July 26, 2010, the detective downloaded multiple child pornography files traced to a computer at the residence of Mark Tilford, 44. As a result, a federal search warrant was obtained and executed by ICE HSI agents at Tilford's Corpus Christi home on Oct. 1, 2010. Agents seized several computers and other electronic storage devices. A forensic analysis of the seized devices led to discovering 266 images and 98 videos of child pornography on two computers. Many of these images and videos have been identified as containing known victims by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Tilford has been in custody since his Jan. 5 arrest, where he will remain pending his transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Tilford, who at the time of his indictment and arrest was an active duty U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Lt. Commander, pleaded guilty to the charges on March 17.
In sentencing Tilford to the 125-month term of imprisonment, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack stressed the need to protect the public from Tilford and to discourage others from engaging in similar behavior. Judge Jack also sentenced Tilford to a lifetime term of supervised release and ordered Tilford to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life. Judge Jack also ordered Tilford to pay $100,000 restitution to his victim.
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.
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 http://www.cybertipline.com.