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Child Exploitation

Former firefighter sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for child pornography production and possession

BALTIMORE – A former Maryland firefighter was sentenced Thursday to 195 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography and possession of child pornography. The sentencing follows an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the Baltimore County Police Department and the Baltimore Police Department.

Anthony Maurice Cottle, 24, of Owings Mills, Md., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, who ordered that upon his release from prison, Cottle must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

According to his plea agreement, in June and July 2012, Cottle, a former firefighter with the Baltimore County Fire Department, sexually abused two minor males to produce visual depictions of the abuse. Cottle produced one video that depicts the genitalia of a minor male and Cottle performing sex acts on the boy. Cottle produced a second video depicting the genitalia of another minor male. Federal agents recovered more than 600 images of child pornography from Cottle’s computer and cell phone.

In addition to the videos produced by Cottle, images of several other child victims whom Cottle solicited to send him photos of their genitals, were found. Cottle admitted that on some occasions he used video chat to capture the image live, and on other occasions the minor would send a photograph by cell phone.

The 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 1-866-347-2423 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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

The Baltimore County State Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore County Fire Department provided assistance in this investigation.

The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Ayn B. Ducao in the District of Maryland.