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Press Release

Lincoln Man Convicted of Possession of Child Pornography Following a Jury Trial

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

United States Attorney Steven Russell announced that John Wade Burton, 66, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was convicted on February 15, 2023, following a jury trial of possession of child pornography. Because of a prior conviction, Burton faces a potential statutory imprisonment range of between 10 and 20 years. There is no parole in the federal system. Burton’s sentencing hearing will take place on May 15, 2023.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation received a tip from a foreign law enforcement agency that a computer with an IP address from Lincoln, Nebraska, had twice accessed a child pornography website. Further investigation revealed that the IP address was assigned to Burton’s residence. A search warrant for Burton’s residence was obtained and executed on November 17, 2020. Agents seized a number of computers, hard drives, and thumb drives found throughout the home. Later analysis of those devices showed several contained images and videos depicting child pornography. In total, well over 1,000 such images and videos were located.

The defendant had a prior conviction in Missouri for having sexually assaulted a child who was less than 14 years old. He was sentenced to prison for that offense and was in custody from February 15, 2007, to February 14, 2018. A computer forensic expert retained by the defense testified that the metadata on two of the devices showed someone was viewing some of the child pornography files during times when John Burton was in custody. The defense also offered testimony from a few victims that another person, who according to the defense had access to the devices, had sexually assaulted children in the past. However, the metadata on most of the devices showed that the child pornography files were created or modified at times either before Burton went into custody in Missouri, or after his release.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Nebraska State Patrol and the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department. 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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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


Michael Norris, Criminal Chief (402) 661-3700

Updated February 21, 2023

Project Safe Childhood