WASHINGTON—Christopher Burdette, 53, of Palm Harbor, Florida, pled guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of distribution of child pornography.
The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; Robert E. O’Neill, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Steven E. Ibison, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Tampa Field Division; and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Burdette appeared today before the Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years of imprisonment, a maximum sentence of 20 years, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for August 23, 2012.
According to a factual proffer of evidence presented during today’s court proceeding, beginning on August 16, 2011, an MPD member of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force who was operating undercover as part of the investigation communicated with Burdette by instant messenger and e-mail. During the course of the communications, Burdette expressed interest in meeting an under-aged girl and engaging in sexual contact with the child.
Also during the course of the communications, Burdette sent the undercover investigator 50 videos of child pornography. During communications over the next several days, Burdette further expressed interest in watching the undercover investigator performing sex acts with the under-aged girl via web camera over the Internet and obtained items, including a sex toy, for the undercover to use with the under-aged girl.
Law enforcement obtained an arrest warrant for Burdette, and he was arrested at the Tampa International Airport on August 22, 2011. Forensic analysis of the computers and electronic media seized from Burdette at the time of his arrest confirmed that Burdette also possessed over 250 images and over 100 videos of child pornography.
This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative and investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes members of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and MPD.
Project Safe Childhood is 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, U.S. Attorney O’Neill, Assistant Director McJunkin, Special Agent in Charge Ibison, and Chief Lanier commended the work of all who participated in the investigation. They especially acknowledged the efforts of the MPD Detectives and Special Agents of the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force. They also particularly commended the outstanding work of Criminal Investigator John Marsh of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Finally, they commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Middle District of Florida, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Donovan and David B. Kent from the District of Columbia, who are prosecuting this case.