News and Press Releases

ST. LUCIE COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS FOR PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND ENTICEMENT OF MINORS OVER THE INTERNET

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Robert L. Crowder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), announced today that Robert Wesley Harden, 22, of Ft. Pierce, Florida, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release by United States District Judge K. Michael Moore.

Harden was arrested on December 9, 2010, 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). He pleaded guilty to the charge of production of child pornography via the internet on February 28, 2011. As a result of his guilty plea and today's sentence, Harden will have to serve a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison as part of his 30 year sentence. In addition, Harden will be on supervised release for the rest of his life when released from prison and must register as a sex offender pursuant to federal law.

In October, 2010, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Ft. Pierce served a federal search warrant at 702 SW Watson Place, Port St. Lucie, Florida, encountering Robert Harden. Harden was interviewed and admitted observing child pornography using Peer-to-Peer applications, but claimed he deleted the files once he determined it was child pornography. Harden denied communicating via the internet with any underage girls online. Harden gave agents 2 of his email addresses and identified his laptop computer in his bedroom, which they seized.

An HSI Special Agent conducted a computer forensic examination of Harden’s laptop computer and located chat files documenting text communications between Harden's screen name and a 15 year old victim from Iowa. The Agent recovered data indicating that in September and October 2010, Harden repeatedly solicited the 15 year old victim for sexually explicit images of herself and of her younger sister. In addition to the chats, the Agent recovered sexually explicit images of the minor victims on Harden's computer.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and Martin County Sheriff's Office for their work on this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

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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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