Aug. 27, 2010
COURT ORDERS HOUSTON RESIDENT HELD IN CUSTODY WITHOUT BOND PENDING TRIAL ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
(HOUSTON) – A Houston resident charged by indictment with distribution and possession of child pornography has been ordered detained in federal custody without bond pending trial following a hearing yesterday, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
United States Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy has ordered Burt Hughes, 57, to remain in federal custody without bond pending trial after finding Hughes would be a danger to the community if released. The two-count indictment against Hughes was returned by a Houston grand jury on Aug. 18, 2010, as a result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force. Hughes has pleaded not guilty to the charges and trial is set for Oct. 12, 2010, before United States District Judge Gray Miller.
During Thursday’s hearing on the government’s motion to detain Hughes without bond, the court heard testimony about Hughes having allegedly shared child pornography images through Peer to Peer software using his home computer. In July and August 2009, the La Porte Police Department downloaded several images of child pornography allegedly from Hughes and passed the information on to the FBI. Based on the information obtained from the downloads, a warrant to search Hughes’ residence issued. According to testimony at the hearing, several computers were seized from that residence. A forensic analysis of the seized computers resulted in the discovery of more than 560 videos containing child pornography.
Hughes faces a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison if convicted of the distribution charge. The possession of child pornography count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years incarceration upon conviction. Both charges also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. If convicted of either offense, upon completion of any prison term imposed, Hughes also faces a maximum life term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet. Individuals convicted of these crimes are required to register as a sex offender.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack.
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