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Springfield Man Charged With Attempting To Entice Minor And Possession Of Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2008

Springfield, Ill. - A Springfield, Illinois man has been charged in a federal criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois in cooperation with the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office. U.S. Attorney Rodger A. Heaton announced that Thomas Thornburg, 52, of the 1200 block of West Governor Street, is charged with attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and possession of child pornography. Thornburg was arrested on February 17, 2008. He made his initial appearance in federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore.

The affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that on February 15, 16, and 17, Thornburg engaged in email chats with a person he believed to be a 12-year-old boy from Springfield, Illinois. The email account was actually being used by an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement posing as a 12-year-old minor male. According to the affidavit, during one of the email chats, Thornburg made arrangements to meet the boy near his school. On February 17, 2008, law enforcement officers approached Thornburg after they observed him walking northbound on Lincoln Street near Sacred Heart Griffin and Dubois Elementary schools. Officers executed a search warrant at Thornburg’s residence on February 17, 2008, and recovered his computer, compact discs and other items. As a result of an initial forensic examination of materials recovered from Thornburg’s residence, agents have identified 164 movies containing child pornography including movies depicting boys as young as six to eight years old engaging in sexual activity.

The investigation was conducted by agencies participating in the Springfield Computer Crimes Task Force including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Police Department. The task force is a multi-agency group which investigates computer crime cases on behalf of local, federal and state law enforcement agencies. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass.

If convicted of the offense of attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, Thornburg faces a statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum five years to 30 years in prison, up to life supervised release, and fines of up to $250,000. If convicted of possession of child pornography, Thornburg faces imprisonment of 10 to 20 years and up to life supervised release.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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