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Press Release

Former U.S. Marine And Registered Sex Offender Pleads Guilty To Coercing Minors To Produce Sex Abuse Material

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – Joshua Eugene Burton (34, Missouri) has pleaded guilty to coercing a minor to engage in sexually explicit activity and committing a child sex offense while registered as a sex offender. Burton faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Burton engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with a 14-year-old individual ("Victim 1") while portraying himself as a teenage girl from California named “Becky Smith.” In his conversations, Burton persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced Victim 1 to create and send him sexually explicit images and videos of himself/herself. Burton also coerced Victim 1 into creating a video of Victim 1 performing oral sex on a 16-year-old individual ("Victim 2") by threatening to publicly post the photos and videos that he had previously received. In order to add more credibility to his threat, Burton specifically referenced the schools that both victims attended. As a result of his threats, Victim 1 sent Burton multiple sexually explicit images and videos.

Burton is a former U.S. Marine who was convicted of possession of child pornography in 2008 during the time he served in the United States Marine Corps. As part of his conviction, Burton was required to register as a sex offender and was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisa M. Thelwell and Candace Garcia Rich.

It is another case 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

Updated March 4, 2020

Project Safe Childhood