Baltimore, Maryland - Anthony Maurice Cottle, age 23, of Owings Mills, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to sexual exploitation of a minor to produced child pornography and to possession of child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
According to his plea agreement, in June and July 2012, Cottle, a former firefighter with the Baltimore County Fire Department, engaged in sexually explicit conduct with two minor males in order to produce visual depictions of the abuse, including two videos. Cottle produced one video that depicts the genitalia of a minor male and Cottle performing sex acts on the boy. Cottle produced a second video depicting the genitalia of another minor male. More than 600 images of child pornography were recovered from Cottle’s computer and cell phone.
In addition to the videos produced by Cottle, images of several other child victims, whom Cottle solicited to send him photos of their genitals, were found. Cottle admitted that on some occasions he used video chat to capture the image live, and on other occasions the minor would send a photograph via cellular phone.
As part of his plea agreement, Cottle must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Cottle faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison followed by up to lifetime of supervised release for production of child pornography; and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for July 18, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. U.S. Attorney Rosenstein also recognized the Baltimore County Fire Department for its assistance in this case. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Ayn B. Ducao, who is prosecuting the case.