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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mississippi Man Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison for Assisting Producer of Child Pornography

     TUCSON, Ariz. – On May 8, 2019, Rico Wilbert, 38, of Purvis, Mississippi, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Soto to 17 years in prison.  Wilbert’s term of imprisonment will be followed by lifetime supervised release requiring him to register and abide by sex offender conditions. Wilbert had previously pleaded guilty on August 27, 2018, to aiding and abetting the production of child pornography.

     Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigating Josue Cota arrested Wilbert after discovering chats in which Wilbert encouraged and requested videos of Cota sexually abusing children.  Wilbert and Cota communicated and exchanged child pornography online over at least a nine-month period during 2016 and 2017. Evidence showed that Wilbert repeatedly asked Cota for “new” material, and encouraged Cota as he sexually assaulted his victims.  In February 2019, Cota was sentenced in federal court to 60 years’ incarceration for production of child pornography.  

     This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  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

     The investigation in this case was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Douglas Office. The prosecution was handled by Carin C. Duryee and Carmen F. Corbin, District of Arizona, Tucson.

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 10, 2019