Skip to main content

An official website of the United States government

June 16, 2022St. Louis, MO, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI, law enforcement partner investigation leads to over 6-year child pornography prison sentence

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Wednesday sentenced a St. Charles man to six-and-a-half years in prison for possessing thousands of images and hundreds of videos containing child pornography following a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and law enforcement partner investigation.

Marcus E. Gardner, 48, was also ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution to victims who have been identified by law enforcement in the approximately 11,000 images and 500 videos of child sexual abuse investigators found on Gardner's computer and external hard drives.

Gardner pleaded guilty in March to a charge of possession of child pornography. He admitted to being one of the customers of an overseas website that offered child pornography for a fee. Gardner accessed the website 1,132 times between Sept. 2, 2015, and Dec. 3, 2018, and purchased child pornography at least twice, agents with HSI determined. They also determined that the website had collected the equivalent of at least $19 million in profit from users paying to access and download content.

The case was investigated by HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat child exploitation in your community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.

Homeland Security Investigations

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 06/16/2022