News and Press Releases

Previously-convicted Sex Offender Sentenced to Thirty-five Years for the Production of Child Pornography

January 8, 2010

Conviction Results From “Project Safe Childhood” Task Force

Joseph David Burkett, a previously-convicted sex offender, was sentenced earlier today to thirty-five years’ imprisonment for the production of child pornography, lifetime supervised release, and sex offender registration. The sentencing proceeding was held before United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

The sentence was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Thomas Spota, Suffolk County District Attorney, and Richard Dormer, Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.

On June 14, 2007, Burkett was arrested by Suffolk County authorities on charges relating to his sexual abuse of two boys between November 2006 and May 2007. In 1988, he was convicted in Suffolk County of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree for sexually assaulting a child under the age of eleven. However, Burkett was not required to register as a sex offender as that conviction predated New York’s sex offender registration law. In light of his 1988 conviction, the Suffolk County District Attorney and Suffolk County Police Department, members of the Eastern District’s Project Safe Childhood Task Force, referred Burkett for federal prosecution.

Burkett was indicted on federal charges on November 29, 2007, and he pleaded guilty on May 19, 2009, to Sexual Exploitation of a Child for coercing the two boys to engage in sexually explicit acts in order to produce child pornography images. Burkett has remained in custody since his arrest on the state charges.

“We are determined to protect children by aggressively investigating and prosecuting child pornography offenders,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to ensure that those, like this defendant, who repeatedly victimize children will face severe penalties for their crimes.” Mr. Campbell extended his appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its assistance in the case.

District Attorney Spota stated, “This defendant used his My Space web page to find his victims and successfully lure them to Long Island. Our partnership with Suffolk County police and U.S. Attorney Campbell’s team, with the resources of Project Safe Childhood, is an effective strategy in prosecuting dangerous pedophiles like Burkett to make our neighborhoods, and the Internet, safer for our children.”

“I want to commend the Department of Justice for ensuring that Joseph David Burkett stays behind bars,” said Police Commissioner Richard Dormer. “Crimes against children are particularly heinous and keeping people who prey on children off the streets is a top priority for all law enforcement.”

Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative created to protect children from on-line exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better investigate, 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

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Allen L. Bode.

The Defendant:

Age: 41

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