You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 26, 2020

Former U.S. Marine And Registered Sex Offender To Serve 29 Years In Prison For Child Sex Offenses

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. has sentenced Joshua Eugene Burton (34, Arnold, Missouri) to 25 years in federal prison for enticing and coercing a minor to engage in sexually explicit activity, and for being a registered sex offender who committed another sex offense involving a minor. Burton is currently serving a 10 year federal prison sentence for related charges stemming from the Eastern District of Missouri. Today, the court ordered that part of Burton’s 25 year sentence run consecutive to his Missouri conviction; thereby effectively ordering Burton to serve at least 29 years in federal prison.

Burton had pleaded guilty on March 3, 2020.

According to court documents, in September and October 2016, Burton portrayed himself as a teenage girl from California and engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with a 14-year-old child ("Victim 1"). During his conversations, Burton persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced Victim 1 to produce and distribute sexually explicit images and videos of herself. Burton also coerced Victim 1 into performing oral sex on a 16-year-old child ("Victim 2") by threatening to publicly post to the internet the photos and sexually explicit videos Victim 1 had previously sent to Burton, if Victim 1 did not produce the sexually explicit material and send it to him. In order to add more credibility to his threat, Burton specifically referenced the schools that Victim 1 and Victim 2 attended. Victim 1 sent Burton approximately 10 sexually explicit videos depicting Victims 1 and 2, and over 20 sexually explicit photographs to Burton.

The FBI obtained a search warrant for Burton’s residence in Arnold, Missouri. Upon their arrival, Burton refused to open the door and announced that he was armed with a firearm. Burton then barricaded himself inside his bedroom and engaged in a 12-hour armed standoff with law enforcement officers. Eventually, the FBI took Burton into custody. During a search of his residence, agents located and seized multiple electronic devices. A forensic analysis of his devices revealed that Burton had been in possession of child pornography and had deleted evidence of his communications with Victim 1 from his device. Burton pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of child pornography in the Eastern District of Missouri and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Burton is a former U.S. Marine who was convicted of distribution and 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.

“The facts of this case are despicable and heart wrenching,” said Michael McPherson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI-Tampa Field Division. “Mr. Burton threatened and blackmailed his young victim into committing the unthinkable. These investigations are tough to work and I am proud of the dedicated special agents who do the job so that we have a safer community in which to raise our children.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was 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 www.justice.gov/psc.

 

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated June 26, 2020