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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Cambridge Man Pleads Guilty to Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography

BOSTON – A Cambridge man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to child pornography offenses.

Robert Wharton, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for April 2, 2021. Wharton was arrested and charged on July 30, 2020.

Federal investigators developed evidence that a user of the Kik messaging application had electronically transmitted funds to another individual in exchange for access to internet links containing child pornography. The investigation revealed that those funds originated from Wharton and that Wharton resided in an apartment in Cambridge. During a search of Wharton’s apartment, Kik messages that Wharton had exchanged with the person to whom he had sent funds were discovered. In addition, various images and videos depicting naked children were found on Wharton’s phone, including a pornographic video that Wharton had received via the Telegram messaging application; this video depicts a young child performing oral sex on an adult.

The charge of receipt of child pornography provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 20 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possession of child pornography provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The Cambridge Police Department provided valuable assistance along with the Arlington, Newton and Revere Police Departments and the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Abely, Chief of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.

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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
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Updated December 3, 2020