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Press Release

Greenville Man Receives More Than 19-year Prison Term In Child Pornography Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH – United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Senior United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard sentenced MICHAEL ANTHONY COWARD, 28, of Greenville, North Carolina, to 235 months imprisonment followed by 20 years supervised release.  The court also imposed a $5,000 fine. 

On May 15, 2013, a Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment charging COWARD.  On February 10, 2014, COWARD pled guilty to distributing child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2252(a)(2).

According to the investigation, in late September, 2011, law enforcement initiated an investigation after an undercover agent identified a computer advertising to share what was suspected to be files of child pornography through a peer-to-peer sharing program.  In October, 2011, the undercover agent downloaded 105 still images and 15 videos containing child pornography from the identified computer.  Using the Internet Protocol (IP) address, the subscriber was identified and a search warrant was obtained and executed at COWARD’s residence.  Forensic examination of the computer belonging to COWARD revealed that 31,531 images of child pornography had been received and stored on the computer. 

Additionally, COWARD has been convicted in state court for Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Indecent Liberties with a Child in December, 2012.

The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by the Greenville Police Department, the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office and ICAC Unit of the NCSBI. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes is handling the prosecution on behalf of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

This case was 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 project, Project Safe Childhood, go to

Updated July 14, 2015