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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Burke County Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Transporting Child Pornography

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced today John Arthur Coburn, 72, of Morganton, N.C., to 20 years in prison on child pornography charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Coburn was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release and was ordered to register as a sex offender.

U.S. Attorney Murray is joined in making today’s announcement by John Eisert, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the Carolinas.

According to filed documents and statements made in court, law enforcement were alerted to an individual, later identified as Coburn, using a peer-to-peer file sharing network to access child pornography on the internet.  On November 2, 2017, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Coburn’s residence in Burke County and recovered, among other items, a laptop computer and a cellular phone.  A forensic analysis of the Coburn’s cellular phone revealed that Coburn had used the device to produce lewd and lascivious child pornography images of a prepubescent minor female.  In addition, law enforcement located child pornography on Coburn’s laptop, which he had downloaded using the peer-to-peer network. Coburn pleaded guilty in August 2018 to transportation of child pornography.

Coburn has been in federal custody since November 2017 and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.  Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was handled by ICE/HSI.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice, aimed at combating the growing online sexual exploitation of children.  By combining resources, federal, state and local agencies are better able to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue those victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 31, 2019