BOISE, Idaho - A Treasure Valley man was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in federal prison and a lifetime supervised release for possessing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Benjamin Allen Burnett, 32, of Grand View, Idaho, used a YAHOO! email account to receive sexually explicit images of minors. ICE agents became of aware of this illegal activity and further investigation showed that Burnett's personal information and credit card data had been used to pay for memberships to commercial child pornography websites.
In October 2008, ICE agents and Owyhee County Sheriff's deputies, U.S. Postal inspectors, and investigators from the Idaho Attorney General's Office searched Burnett's home. While there, they discovered two videos and 112 sexually explicit images of children on his computer.
Investigators were later able to identify 15 young victims of the sexual abuse depicted in the images. Some of the photos were taken in the United States and others were produced in France, Switzerland, Germany, England and Sweden.
Burnett told investigators that he began viewing child pornography when he was about 20 years old. He also admitted to viewing the illegal images several times a week for more than a decade.
"Today's prison sentence is a reminder of the serious crime that is committed when individuals use the Internet to sexually exploit innocent children by possessing images of child pornography," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigation in Idaho. "ICE agents will continue to work tirelessly to identify these child predators and bring them to justice, one by one."
U.S. Attorney Tom Moss praised the cooperative work of law enforcement and said, "The best way to stop this harmful and persistent crime of exploiting children is through excellent investigations and well-deserved prison sentences."
In the early 1990s, Burnett was convicted of molesting four minors. He received treatment and was placed on probation by the juvenile court in Elmore County, Idaho.
This investigation is 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
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.