FT. PIERCE, Fla. - A Port St. Lucie man pleaded guilty to production of child pornography charges Jan. 25 following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Port St. Lucie Police Department investigation.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between July 1 and Sept. 26, 2009, James T. Byrne, 70, engaged in sexual activity with a 12-year-old mentally handicapped child with an approximate IQ of 55 for the purpose of producing visual images of that sexual activity.
Byrne took photographs of the sexual activity using two digital cameras he owned and then transferred the images onto his computer.
A forensic examination of Byrne's computer revealed more than 300 images of child pornography involving the minor child.
Byrne, 70, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 and a maximum of 30 years in prison, followed by a mandatory minimum term of supervised release of five years, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. He is scheduled for sentencing before Judge K. Michael Moore on June 7.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer C. Millien.
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. 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.