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CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago man who allegedly possessed and transported sexually explicit images of children has been indicted on federal child pornography charges.
BRANDON J. BERGTHOLD, 35, of Frankfort, Ill., is charged with possession and transportation of child pornography, according to an indictment returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The federal charges carry enhanced sentencing penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of 40 years, due to a prior qualifying conviction involving a minor, for which Bergthold has had to register as a sex offender.
From July to September of last year, using the screenname “freakybrando86,” Bergthold communicated with and sent images of child pornography to an individual on the Kik online messaging platform, according to a criminal complaint previously filed in the case. Unbeknownst to Bergthold, the individual with whom he was communicating was an undercover law enforcement officer, the complaint states. The indictment alleges that on Aug. 7, 2021, Bergthold possessed on his cell phone an image of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor, and that on Oct. 17, 2021, he transported a file containing an image of child pornography.
Bergthold is currently detained without bond in federal custody. Arraignment in U.S. District Court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandro G. Ortega.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by logging on to www.missingkids.com or by calling 1-800-843-5678. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.