Former Pan American Airways President Ordered to Prison
|Dec. 19, 2012|
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Robert L. Hedrick, 61, has been sentenced to 30 years for attempted sexual exploitation of children, transfer of obscene materials to a minor, distribution and possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
A federal jury convicted the president of the Brownsville based Pan-American Airways May 21, 2012, following six days of trial and less than three hours of deliberation. The jury rejected Hedrick’s testimony that he was framed as part of a long-term conspiracy hatched by former business partners and various drug cartels so that they could smuggle drugs, guns and nuclear materials through the Brownsville airport.
At the sentencing hearing today, the government presented victim impact statements from two known victims and their families. Subsequently, taking into consideration Hedrick’s age, but without commenting on the guilty verdict or providing additional comment, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed Hedrick a total of 360 months in prison - 360 months for the for the attempted production of child pornography, 120 months for the transfer of obscene materials, 240 months on each count of distribution of child pornography and 120 months on the count of possession of child pornography, respectively. The sentences will be served concurrently for a total sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Hedrick was further ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $5,406,463 to four known victims and will serve a lifetime of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he must comply with a number of court-ordered conditions. Hedrick was also ordered to register as a sex offender.
During trial, the jury heard that between March 8, 2010, and Nov. 22, 2010, Hedrick contacted undercover investigators in Louisiana and Wisconsin through Yahoo instant messenger and email more than 20 times. During those online communications, Hedrick shared 136 images of adult and child pornography with detectives who were posing as 13 and 14-year-old girls. Hedrick also asked each of the undercover detectives to provide him with images of themselves in sexually explicit poses and engaged in sex acts. The government introduced a webcam video of Hedrick masturbating for the undercover detective who had repeatedly identified herself as a 14-year-old girl from Louisiana. Additionally, prosecutors played an audio recording of a phone call between Hedrick and the same undercover detective during which Hedrick attempted to initiate phone sex. At the time of his arrest on July 18, 2011, Hedrick was found to be in possession of a laptop and two external hard drives that contained more than 2,400 images and 18 videos of child pornography. The images and videos found in Hedrick’s possession depicted children as young as infants being sexually assaulted and subjected to acts of anal and oral sex, bondage and bestiality. Many of the images had been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as known victims of sexual assault.
Hedrick was linked to the online alias “David Anderson” or “sftg007” through IP addresses assigned to his Yahoo account by Sprint. Records revealed that each time Hedrick would contact the undercover detectives, he was logged into his Yahoo account and Sprint Internet service. Hedrick’s Sprint phone records verified he received a phone call from the undercover detective in Louisiana at the same time the audio recording was made. Moreover, Hedrick’s name and phone number were found on a preprinted Pan American Airways luggage tag attached to the laptop bag recovered from his residence, inside of which was laptop containing child pornography.
Hedrick will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of police departments in Menomonee Falls, Wis., and Kenner, La. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Carrie Wirsing prosecuted the case along with V. LaTawn Warsaw who is now with the Western District of Texas.
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 and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."