MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Marcus Moreno, of LaVilla, Texas, was sentenced today to 84 months of incarceration for sending inappropriate pictures to a minor, United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld announced.
Moreno, 28, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to one count of “Transfer of Obscenity to Minor.” Moreno began communicating with a minor located in Berkeley County, West Virginia, via social media applications such as Snapchat, KIK, WhatsApp, and the minor’s school email accounts. The victim’s parents turned over her phone to investigators. Forensics revealed thousands of text messages, chats, and video communications between the victim and Moreno, dating from October 2018 to January 2019, when the victim was 15 years old. The investigation further revealed thousands of images of child pornography of the victim and obscene pornographic images of Moreno.
In May 2019, during execution of a search warrant Moreno gave a voluntary statement to agents saying he met the victim online in a chat room when she had just turned 14. Three weeks after that first conversation, they began online dating. Though never meeting in person, he told investigators he planned to marry the victim when she turned 18. He admitted to sending obscene images of himself to the victim. During the search of his home, the FBI found thousands of other graphic files and video files of the victim on several flash drives and devices.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley D. Crockett prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the West Virginia State Police investigated.
U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh presided.