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Child Exploitation

Abilene, Texas, man sentenced to 26 months in federal prison for attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor

ABILENE, Texas – A local man was sentenced Wednesday to 26 months in federal prison, following his March 2012 guilty plea to one count of attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor.

U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis ordered that Charles Linwood Heard, 55, of Abilene, Texas, surrender to the Bureau of Prisons July 19. This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

According to documents filed in the case, in October 2011, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) observed an advertisement for men-seeking-men in the Abilene "personals" section of Craigslist.com. Heard, who had anonymously posted the advertisement, stated that he was an adult male looking for a sexual relationship with young males, no older than 24 years of age.

The following day, the special agent used an undercover e-mail address to send an e-mail to the ad's poster. The special agent posed as a 15-year-old male, "Jake," and described himself as skinny with brown hair. A few days later, Heard responded to "Jake's" e-mail and conversation between the two ensued. "Jake" advised Heard that he was 15-years-old, and, after expressing some concern with respect to "Jake's" age, Heard continued communicating with "Jake" by e-mail and text. On Oct. 18, 2011, Heard sent "Jake" an obscene image, believing that "Jake" was a 15-year-old boy.

The case was investigated by HSI and the Abilene Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas, prosecuted the case.

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.