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Press Release

School Bus Driver Gets 500 Months for Producing and Distributing Child Pornography

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

GALVESTON, Texas – A 46-year-old Galveston man has been ordered to federal prison for nearly 42 years for sexual exploitation of a child as well as possession and distribution of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Michael Lee Martinez pleaded guilty Sept. 11, 2015. 

Today, U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. handed Martinez a sentence of 360 months for three counts of production of child pornography, each to be served concurrently. He also received a sentence of 140 months for the distribution which be served consecutively to production sentence and 120 months for possession which is to be served concurrently to the other sentences imposed. The total 500-month sentence will be followed by life on supervised release during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the Internet and will be required to register as a sex offender.

At the hearing, information was presented including evidence that he produced numerous images to a website used by pedophiles to exchange child pornography. He possessed 140 videos and 394 images of child pornography on his cell phone as well as 44 images and 1,261 videos in his emails. The images Martinez produced were of two minor female relatives and a close friend of one of the relatives. All of the victims were under 16 years of age with one only five.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Hanks called his actions horrible and selfish. “You destroyed the lives of three innocent children,” the court noted, “and society has to protect itself from people like you.”

Martinez came to the attention of law enforcement during a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation of a particular website hosted outside the United States. The website was used by those sexually exploiting children and looking to connect with others who shared their interest in the sexual exploitation of children by trading images of child pornography.

Martinez created an account on this website in May 2014, using the screen name “Mr. Happy” and indicated he loved girls eight to 16 years of age. His profile contained 37 albums with hundreds of images of child pornography. A review of his albums led law enforcement to believe Martinez was producing some of the images he had posted to the website. Law enforcement was able to identify the victims and learned Martinez was a school bus driver. There is no indication that any of this criminal behavior was connected to his employment nor any of his victims a part of his route.   

Martinez admitted to his criminal behavior, including stealing images of from two of his victims’ cell phones. He turned his phone over to law enforcement and indicated they would find images of him sexually gratifying himself next to the head of one of the victims as well as an image of his face near her breasts while she slept.

Martinez was originally arrested by local authorities and later transferred to federal custody where he has been and will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of the Galveston Police Department – Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He still faces state charges in Galveston.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack, 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."

Updated February 9, 2016

Topic
Project Safe Childhood