News and Press Releases


WEDNESDAY - September 16, 2009


RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced WILLIAM LANCE SAUNDERS, 36, of Washington, North Carolina, to 168 months’ imprisonment followed by 10 years supervised release. Once released, SAUNDERS is required to register as a sex offender.

A Criminal Information was filed on April 14, 2009, charging one count of unlawful possession of machine guns and one count of receipt of child pornography. On May 4, 2009, SAUNDERS pled guilty to the charges.

On March 18, 2009, while officers were serving a Domestic Violence Protective Order on SAUNDERS regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a child, two machine guns, belonging to SAUNDERS, were located by the officers in SAUNDERS’ bedroom. Further investigation into the allegations of child abuse revealed evidence of child pornography on his computer. After a search warrant was obtained and executed, and the computer seized, forensic analysis revealed tens of thousands of images of sexual abuse of prepubescent and adolescent children. Upon further investigation, it was found that SAUNDERS had repeatedly sexually abused a child.

Mr. Holding commented, “Our office has seen increases not just in the number of people downloading and trading child pornography over the internet, but in the number who are taking it a step further and acting out on children, often making child pornography of their own. I don’t believe that these increases are coincidental. We remain committed to the aggressive prosecution of these cases.”

This case was part of both the Project Safe Neighborhoods and the Project Safe Childhood initiatives. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.

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

Investigation of this case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Pitt 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 within 48 hours of release.

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