Patrick Cochran, 47, of Lake Jackson, Texas, pleaded guilty today to one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of possession of child pornography.
During today’s plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee at the federal district courthouse in Phoenix, Cochran admitted to responding to an online advertisement for a foreign tour that had been posted by undercover agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cochran further admitted that he wrote to the agents to express his interest in engaging in sexual acts with two minors, and to paying a $75 deposit to reserve a place on the tour. After Cochran traveled to a prearranged meeting place in the District of Arizona and confirmed his intent to take part in the tour, he was arrested by the agents.
Cochran further admitted to possessing more than 600 images of child pornography on various digital media at his home in Texas. The possession charge, filed in the Southern District of Texas, was transferred to the district court in Arizona for disposition by guilty plea with the consent of the U.S. Attorneys for the two districts, at the request of Cochran.
Cochran’s sentencing has been scheduled for July 27, 2009. At sentencing, Cochran may face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, a term of supervised release of any amount up to life, and he will be required to register as a sex offender in accordance with state and federal law. As part of the plea agreement, Cochran also agrees to undergo sex offender treatment and counseling as directed by the probation department.
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 Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney James Silver of CEOS, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincent Q. Kirby of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. ICE conducted the investigation.