You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Burgaw Man Sentenced to More Than 18 Years for Child Pornography Offense

RALEIGH — The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, Chief United States District Judge Terrence W Boyle sentenced Cheyne Martin Potrafka, 35, of Burgaw to 220 months’ imprisonment, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.  POTRAFKA pled guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography on November 1, 2018. 

The charge arose from a state probation search.  On August 9, 2016, Potrafka began a term of state post-release supervision, following a 2013 conviction on two counts of Indecent Liberties with a Child in Pender County Superior Court.  Not long after POTRAFKA began post-release supervision, his probation officer became concerned about POTRAFKA’s compliance.  Specifically, the officer learned that POTRAFKA admitted during sex-offender treatment to having sexually abused multiple children in the past and that members of Potrafka’s church had begun complaining about him lingering near children.

On March 1, 2017, probation conducted a warrantless search of POTRAFKA’s residence, pursuant to the terms of his supervision agreement.  His computer and hard drives were examined on site and found to contain over 150 images and a video of child pornography.  A later forensic examination revealed additional files that had been deleted.  In an interview, Potrafka admitted to possessing child pornography.  He also admitted to sexually abusing approximately 14 children during his lifetime, describing in detail the multiple incidents of past sexual abuse. 

Mr. Higdon commented: “Cases like this one are among the most important we handle as federal prosecutors.  This case alone revealed how pervasive this problem is and how offenders like this defendant often leave many victims in their wake-here, by the defendant’s own admission, 14 children plus those victimized in the videos and pictures he possessed.  The Justice Department remains firmly committed to protecting our most vulnerable citizens-our children, by aggressively investigating and prosecuting these cases wherever we find them.”

This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level.  For more information about this important national initiative, go to

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh represented the government.    

Project Safe Childhood
Updated February 7, 2019