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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Raleigh Man Sentenced to 20 Years’ Imprisonment After Pretending to be Teenage Girl to Collect Child Pornography Online

RALEIGH — United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today in federal court, Chief United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle, sentenced EZEKIAL SANDOVAL, 49, of Raleigh to 240 months’ imprisonment.  SANDOVAL was named in a 12-count Indictment on May 22, 2019, charging him with one count of child exploitation and manufacturing child pornography, 10 counts of receipt of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.  On November 13, 2019, he pled guilty to the child exploitation and manufacturing count. 

According to the investigation, on September 3, 2017, a father located in Michigan, reported to local police that his 11 year old daughter had been sexually exploited online by an unknown individual.  The victim had met the individual online and believed she was communicating with a teenage female named “Cindy.”  Law enforcement reviewed the conversation on the victim’s phone and saw that the person going by “Cindy” encouraged the victim to self-produce multiple explicit images and videos.  At “Cindy’s” request, the victim sent her the images and videos during a week-long span in late August 2017. 

Law enforcement determined that the telephone number for “Cindy” was in fact registered to a then-47 year old man, the defendant EZEKIAL SANDOVAL.  After further surveillance confirmed that SANDOVAL was the phone’s user, law enforcement obtained a federal search warrant for his Raleigh home and seized a phone and other digital devices.   

On SANDOVAL’s phone, law enforcement located an account for the internet chat application Kik with registered name “Cindy Baker.”  FBI also recovered images that matched those sent from the Michigan victim.  Forensics further revealed that SANDOVAL had accessed links that contained other child pornography online, finding over 2,000 still images and 180 videos of child pornography across his various digital devices.

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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Raleigh Police Department and the Pittsfield Township Police Department (Michigan) conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh represented the government.   

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 29, 2020