PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Fort Walton Beach, Fla., man was sentenced in federal court in Pensacola Thursday for the online exploitation of children, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Branden M. Scott, 29, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison to be followed by 20 years of supervised release. Scott will also have to register as a sex offender.
The charges stemmed from an undercover operation, in which it was learned that Scott used the Internet to share hundreds of graphic images of prepubescent children engaged in sexual activity.
Some of these images involved infants engaged in such acts. Also during this time frame, Scott engaged in online "chat," in which he discussed his desire to engage in sex acts with a teenage family member.
A federal search warrant was executed on his residence earlier this year by ICE HSI agents, along with other members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the evidence seized from his residence confirmed such activity.
Scott was actively online at the time law enforcement entered his residence to execute the warrant.
Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers for the Northern District of Georgia observed during sentencing that the graphic nature of the "chat" provided insight into Scott's thoughts.
Scott was held responsible for possessing over 95,000 images and videos of child pornography, and Rodgers noted this included images of "infants in bondage and distress."
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Goldberg of the Northern District of Florida.
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