SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri man was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 22 years in federal prison for receiving and distributing child pornography via the internet.
This sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Larson, Western District of Missouri. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force.
Ben Culbertson, 56, of Nevada, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to 262 months in federal prison without parole. Culbertson had been detained in federal custody since his arrest in October 2016. Culbertson pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography via the internet on March 22, 2017.
According to court documents, Culbertson came to the attention of law enforcement after distributing images of child pornography (including some victims likely under the 8 years old) via the internet. Culbertson, who was previously convicted of two counts of aggravated indecent solicitation of a child, admitted to investigators that he received and distributed images of child pornography on multiple occasions.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
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-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member 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.