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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Wrigley Announces a Carson, ND, Man was sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Charges of Possession of Child Pornography and Impersonating a Federal Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota

Bismarck – United States Attorney Drew Wrigley announced that Robert James Zeller, Age 41 of Carson, ND, has been sentenced to federal prison for Possession of Images Depicting the Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Impersonating a Federal Officer. Zeller pled guilty to the offenses on October 19, 2020, and was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Daniel Hovland to 14 years in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release on a charge of possession of child pornography and 3 years in prison to be followed by 1 year of supervised release on a charge of impersonating a federal officer. Judge Hovland ordered these sentences to run concurrent with one another.

"The defendant was already a convicted sex offender when he attempted to re-victimized the same minor child by fraudulently posing as an official," said U.S. Attorney Wrigley, "and today’s sentencing underscores the severity of those crimes, aggravated by his recidivism and duplicity."

On November 22, 2018, while Zeller was on supervised release for committing a prior federal sex offense, he engaged in sexual acts with a minor female who had not attained 18 years of age, recorded these sexual acts on a cellular phone; and thereafter, possessed the videos containing the depictions of these sexual acts. Subsequently, on January 28, 2020, the defendant impersonated his federal probation officer, contacted the same minor female, and issued false threats against her in order to trick the minor female into providing him with videos, photographs, and personal information.

This case was investigated by the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Bismarck Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan J. O’Konek.


Terry W. Van Horn 701-297-7458

Updated January 12, 2021