Erie Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing Child Pornography
ERIE, Pa. - A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Russell Gardner, 54, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Gardner possessed computer images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Launched in February 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, 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.
Judge McLaughlin scheduled sentencing for May 11, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court detained Gardner at the Erie County Prison.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Gardner.