News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WEDNESDAY - September 9, 2009

ROCKY MOUNT MYSPACE.COM USER PLEADS GUILTY

TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY POSSESSION

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday CHRISTOPHER MARK SURLES, 26, of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, pled guilty to possession of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(4)(B) before United States District Judge James C. Dever, III.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on August 21, 2008. A detective from the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation identified SURLES as a registered sex offender using MySpace.com and approached him at his residence for questioning. After SURLES consented to a search of a computer hard drive he handed to the investigators, agents quickly discovered child pornography on the hard drive and seized the drive for further analysis. Forensic analysis revealed a sizeable collection of child pornography, including over 200 videos of children being sexually abused.

Because of SURLES’ prior sex offense, he faces at least 10 years and not more than 20 years’ imprisonment, up to a lifetime term of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Mr. Holding applauded the work of investigators, “I commend the officers involved in this investigation. Their work has, no doubt, prevented harm to countless potential victims.”

Sentencing is set for December 14, 2009.

This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Exum represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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