Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
Melissa man faces federal child porn charge
By Danny Gallagher, McKinney Courier-Gazette
A Melissa man is facing time in a federal prison for receiving e-mails that contained sexually explicit images of children.
A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas returned a felony indictment against Mark Henry Burns, 52, of Melissa on Wednesday on a charge of interstate receipt of child pornography over a period of seven months, according to federal court records.
The Melissa Police Department first received a complaint about Burns that he had stored images of child pornography on a home computer. Police obtained a search warrant, executed it at the subject’s home and seized a computer during the search, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Police investigators sent the computer to the North Texas Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory for further study. Investigators at the lab determined the computer not only had the presence of child pornography but that he had also received the images between December 2006 and August 2007 through interstate commerce channels, according to the statement.
Any person who “knowingly” transports, ships or receives any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity using a computer is subject to federal prosecution, according to Title 18, Section 2252 of the U.S. Penal Code.
It is not known if Burns has been apprehended as of Thursday since a date for his arrest could not be obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Burns also had not been appointed an attorney by the court or announced he would retain one himself as of the filing of his indictment, according to federal court records.
If Burns is convicted of the charge, he could face a federal prison sentence between five and 20 years followed by a period of supervised release of not more than three years and a possible fine as high as $250,000, according to the indictment.
Burns’ case was investigated and prosecuted through Project Safe Childhood of North Texas, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The project, founded in July 2006, coordinates law enforcement organizations on all levels to combat crimes committed against children.
“Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to coordinate federal, state, and local law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases and rescue the victims of those crimes,” according to a statement released by the DOJ. “The initiative also involves the creation and implementation of programs to educate parents and protect children from online predators.”
U.S. Attorney Richard Roper said, at a special conference at Dallas FBI Headquarters to commemorate the establishment of the project, that Project Safe Childhood aims to curb the rising tide of child-related crimes.
“The increase in child exploitation cases is staggering, truly of epidemic proportions,” Roper said, according to the statement. “But what’s even more frightening is the number of potential victims. I’m committed to working with all of these agencies and sharing resources to not only ensure that these predators are convicted of their atrocious crimes, but to ensure that we get the toughest penalties for the worst offenders so that they can’t harm any more innocent children.”
A representative of the Melissa Police Department could not be reached by press time.
Contact Danny Gallagher at email@example.com. To post comments online, access this story on the web at www.scntx.com.
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