CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cody Allen Wright, 24, of Mooresville, N.C. was sentenced today to 240 months in prison for possession of child sexual abuse material that involved a prepubescent minor, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, Wright was ordered to serve a lifetime under court supervision and to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.
Michael C. Scherck, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, Robert Schurmeier, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), and Sheriff Darren Campbell of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s court hearing, between December 2019 and June 2020, Wright knowingly possessed and accessed images and videos that contained child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Court records show that the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation after receiving multiple cybertips that an individual later identified as Wright was using a Dropbox account to upload and store CSAM. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement conducted a search warrant at Wright’s residence from which they seized two cellular phones, a laptop and other electronic devices. A forensic analysis of the devices revealed that Wright possessed more than 1,500 files that contained images and videos of children, some younger than12, being sexually abused.
In addition to locating child sexual abuse material, law enforcement also determined that Wright was using messaging apps like Kik and Discord to chat about and trade CSAM with other individuals. In one instance, Wright engaged in a chat during which he advised another app user on how to access CSAM on the dark web.
On September 26, 2022, Wright pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography that involved a prepubescent minor who had not yet attained 12 years of age.
At today’s court hearing, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell ordered Wright to serve the maximum statutory sentence for the offense, after the Court found that the defendant had sexually abused a minor. According to court records, while the federal investigation was ongoing, Wright was arrested by local law enforcement and was convicted in state court of engaging in sexual contact with a minor he met online. As a result of the state conviction, Wright was sentenced to 155 months in prison. Judge Bell ordered 150 months of Wright’s federal prison term to be served consecutive to the state sentence.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the FBI, the SBI, and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of the case and thanked the Iredell County District Attorney’s Office for their invaluable assistance.
Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Cervantes and Stephanie Spaugh of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.
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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.