News and Press Releases

Moorhead Man Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2013

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on June 3, 2013, Dustin Howard Muscha, 32, of Moorhead, Minn., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to two charges of sexual exploitation of minors and two charges of possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

The incidents came to attention of law enforcement after a lost cellular phone was turned into the Sprint retailer in South Fargo. Sprint discovered a child pornography video involving a six-year-old girl on the cellular telephone and contacted law enforcement immediately. The cellular telephone, which was assigned to Dustin Muscha, was searched by Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) forensic examiner Jim Shaw, who discovered additional child pornography videos involving two other children under the age of four years.

Through further investigation by BCI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), it was discovered that Muscha created the child pornography videos involving the prepubescent children between March of 2009 and September of 2012 in both Fargo and Moorhead. Muscha maintained these videos and other child pornography images on his cellular telephone which he lost at a Fargodome concert on September 29, 2012.

A search warrant was also obtained for Muscha’s storage unit located in South Fargo which revealed additional child pornography material.

The charge of sexual exploitation of minors carries a statutory minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years in prison and a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

The charge of possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Department of Homeland Security Investigation, and Moorhead and Fargo Police Departments.

Sentencing for Muscha has been scheduled for Aug. 29, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Fargo, N.D., at 9 a.m.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

 

 

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