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March 17, 2009


(HOUSTON) - A federal grand jury has indicted James Walter Hale, of Houston, for possessing child pornography, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Hale, 57, was previously convicted in December 1996 in state court for possession of child pornography and is currently in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for violating the terms and conditions of his original probationary sentence and for failing to register as a sex offender.

The current federal charges against Hale are the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI Cyber Squad Innocent Images Unit dedicated to investigating online exploitation of children and child pornography. While serving a state arrest warrant for failure to register as a sex offender, Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies recognized what they believed to be child pornography on Hale’s computer. FBI was contacted and an investigation initiated. The indictment returned today accuses Hale of possessing child pornography on his computer, CDs and DVDs.

Because of his prior state conviction, Hale faces a mandatory minimum statutory sentence of 10 years imprisonment up to a maximum of 20 years for possession of child pornography. Additionally, the charge also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 as a possible punishment. If convicted, upon completion of any prison term imposed, Hale also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.

This case was brought as 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. Led by United States 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.



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