Former Harris County Deputy Enters Guilty Plea to Federal Child Pornography Charges
HOUSTON – A 31-year-old former law enforcement official has entered a guilty plea to production and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Andrew Craig Sustaita, of Spring, was previously a Harris County deputy sheriff at the time of the offense, but is no longer employed there.
A federal grand jury indicted Sustaita Feb. 1, 2017, on charges of possession and production of child pornography. He appeared in court shortly thereafter, at which time the court found him to be a danger to the community and a risk of flight and ordered him into custody.
Today, Sustaita pleaded guilty to both counts as charged.
As part of his plea, Sustaita admitted he posted child erotica images to a known child pornography website and had commented on other similar images on that same site. The investigation led to Sustaita whose online presence included a pay-to-play bestiality website. Further information presented to the court included discussions of the amount and types of images authorities have discovered on two devices attributable to Sustaita. The court heard that one video includes a known young girl showering. Other images contain Sustaita’s genitalia placed on or near the identified young female victim’s head while she appears to be sleeping and others that include Sustaita attempting to expose that child’s genitalia.
Further investigation led to the discovery of the identified victim’s images on a computer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sustaita admitted he had distributed the images via the internet.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake accepted the pleas and set sentencing for June 6, 2018. At that time, Sustaita faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison for sexual exploitation of a child (production of child pornography) as well as another 10-year-maximum sentence for possessing child pornography. The charges are also punishable by a possible $250,000 maximum possible fine. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Sustaita could also face up to life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect the children and prohibit the use of the Internet. Sustaita would also be required to register as a sex offender.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack is prosecuting the case, which was 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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."