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Press Release

Kinston Man Sentenced for Distributing Child Pornography

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

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Kinston man was sentenced today to 240 months imprisonment followed by 10 years of supervised release for distributing child pornography following a multi-agency investigation showing that the man had possessed and/or distributed at least 132 images and 43 videos of child pornography often involving children under the age of 12. Martin Sutton, age 54, pled guilty to the charge on February 7, 2024. The defendant was also ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to one known victim.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Sutton was investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies in June and November of 2020 after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that he had uploaded child pornography to two different Dropbox accounts. Furthermore, in February 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Utah conducted an online, covert investigation on Kik social media locating individuals trading child pornography in chat groups.  They identified Sutton as being part of a group sharing child pornography.  The FBI undercover agent engaged in a conversation with Sutton who ended up sending child pornography to the agent. In March 2021, a Homeland Security Task Force Officer from the Boone Police Department, engaged in an undercover operation, also located Sutton distributing child pornography in a different Kik chat group.

Arrest warrants were issued for Sutton based on the totality of the investigations, and he was arrested in June 2021.  When he was arrested, Sutton denied any involvement in child sexual exploitation.  He claimed someone had stolen his identity and was engaged in the criminal conduct.  His cellular device was seized and searched.  A forensic analysis showed images and videos of child pornography present on his phone including images of a child that had been entrusted to Sutton’s care.  

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 U.S. Attorneys' Offices and CEOS, 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

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the sentencing was concluded.  Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II presided over the sentencing.  The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charity Wilson prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-CR-55-M.

Updated June 14, 2024

Project Safe Childhood