JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columbia, Mo., man who used a false identity as a woman to trick seven minor victims, whom he knew through his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America, pleaded guilty in federal court today to producing, receiving and distributing child pornography.
Ian Francis Burow, 24, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charges contained in a Nov. 7, 2012, federal indictment. Burow remains in federal custody without bond.
By pleading guilty today, Burow admitted that he used the alias “Sarah McGee” to communicate online (through Facebook, Skype and Yahoo) and via cell phone with several Boy Scouts, ranging in age from 14 to 17. Burow tricked the minor victims into sending him pornographic photos of themselves in inappropriate poses, or make videos or live broadcast themselves engaged in sexually explicit behavior over the Internet (through Skype or a Windows movie media attachment).
Burow sent the victims photos of a woman (claiming it was “Sarah McGee”) in various poses, including nudity, to encourage the victims to send similar photos. Once he received victims’ photos and movies, he frequently distributed some of them to one of the minor victims and to others.
Burow, who was also a Boy Scout, told persons asking about “Sarah McGee” that he knew her, that she was a good friend and that she lived in the same housing complex. In fact, she did not exist.
According to court documents, witnesses saw Burow carrying and displaying nude photos of young boys on his phone, and at least one caught him in an inappropriate communication over the Internet. When confronted by this person, Burow falsely claimed he was working for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force – the same agency that investigated and arrested him. He suggested to her that he was assisting law enforcement in its efforts to capture persons who were predators of young people.
Law enforcement investigators identified many persons (not all of whom were minors) who were solicited by Burow to produce photos and videos of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct and send them to “Sarah McGee.” Not all of these persons sent the requested materials, but many did.
Burow pleaded guilty to seven counts – involving six different victims, ages 14 through 17 – of receiving and distributing child pornography between Dec. 27, 2010, and Aug. 1, 2011. Burow also pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography on Oct. 14, 2011, when he used a 15-year-old victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct, which was transmitted live over the Internet by using Skype.
Burow must forfeit to the government any property used to commit the offenses, including an Apple iPad, a laptop computer, an Apple iTouch, a Blackberry Curve, two external hard drives and other items.
Under federal statutes, Burow is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the FBI and the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.
Project Safe ChildhoodThis case 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."