News and Press Releases

FORT PIERCE MAN ARRESTED FOR PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND ENTICEMENT OF MINORS OVER THE INTERNET

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Robert L. Crowder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), announced the arrest of Robert Wesley Harden, 21, of Fort Pierce, Florida. Harden made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Frank J. Lynch. A detention hearing is scheduled for next Friday, December 17, 2010.

Harden was arrested on charges of production of child pornography, enticement of minors via the Internet, and receipt of child pornography via the Internet, in violation of Title 18, Sections 2251(a), 2422(b) and 2252 (a)(2). If convicted of production of child pornography, Harden faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison. If convicted of the enticement charge, Harden faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. If convicted of receipt of child pornography charge, Harden faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. In addition, Harden faces a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and registration as a sex offender.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, ICE HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at a Port St. Lucie address, where they encountered Robert Harden. At the time, Harden was interviewed and admitted observing child pornography using Peer-to-Peer applications, but claimed he deleted the files after he determined it was child pornography. Harden denied communicating via the internet with any underage girls online. Harden provided ICE agents 2 of his email addresses and identified his laptop computer in his bedroom, which they seized.

According to the complaint affidavit, a subsequent examination of the Harden’s laptop revealed chat files documenting text communications between Harden’s screen name and a 15 year old victim girl from Iowa. In addition, a review of the computer’s contents showed that Harden had repeatedly requested sexually explicit still pictures and web camera transmissions from the victim and her 6 year old sister. The agents also recovered sexually explicit images of the 15 and 6 year girls from Harden’s computer.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Ft. Pierce and Cedar Rapids, Martin County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa City Police Department for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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