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Child Exploitation

Maryland man pleads guilty to producing child pornography

BALTIMORE — An Essex man pleaded guilty Thursday to producing child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Baltimore County Police Department. The Baltimore County State Attorney's Office assisted with the investigation.

Between December 2011 and July 2012, Robert Marzola, 31, sexually abused a minor male at his home, and he produced images of himself and the minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Marzola saved the images on his laptop and told the boy not to tell anyone about their conduct, which Marzola described to the boy as a game.

In June 2012, Baltimore County Police accessed a peer-to-peer network and saw that Marzola had files containing child pornography available for download. Police executed a search warrant at Marzola's residence July 19, 2012, and seized a camera, desktop computer, laptop computer and a secure digital card. The images and videos that Marzola had previously produced of the boy were found on his laptop, along with 18 additional videos of children engaged in sexual conduct.

As part of his plea agreement, Marzola 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.

Marzola faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison followed by up to lifetime of supervised release. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7 before U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander.

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.