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Coburn

ASHEVILLE — A Burke County man was sentenced on child porn charges in federal court on Thursday.

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

U.S. Attorney Murray is joined in announcing the sentencing by John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the Carolinas.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office assisted The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in searching the home of Coburn in the 5000 block of Beech Bluff Drive, according to a BCSO release in November 2017.

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 Nov. 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 cellphone. A forensic analysis of Coburn’s cellphone 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 people who exploit children on the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue those victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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