Maryland Man Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation of a Child in Texas
BEAUMONT, TX—A 27-year-old California, Maryland man has been sentenced to federal prison for child exploitation violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Felix Alexandro Pinto, Jr., pleaded guilty on Oct. 10, 2014, to transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.
According to information presented in court, on May 25, 2011, Pinto was pulled over for a traffic violation in Harrison County, Mississippi. During the stop, the deputy noticed the passengers, a male and female, appeared extremely nervous. Pinto advised the deputy that he had driven from Maryland to Houston and was returning to Maryland. The vehicle had been rented by Pinto in Maryland at 8:00 a.m. the day before, approximately 30 hours before the traffic stop. While interviewing the female passenger, the deputy learned she was a 14-year-old runaway from Liberty County, Texas. As she was being transported back to Texas, the girl reported that Pinto had sexually assaulted her. This was confirmed by a sexual assault nurse’s examination (SANE) in Beaumont, Texas. Further investigation revealed Pinto met the girl through a social media website. They communicated by the Internet and cellular telephone networks for about two months before Pinto drove to Liberty County and picked the girl up from school on May 25, 2011. During this time, Pinto sent the girl sexually explicit photos of himself and asked her to send similar photos of herself to him. At one point the girl asked Pinto if her only being 14 years old would be a problem and he replied it would not. A forensic examination of the girl’s cell phone confirmed the conversations and photos.
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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Harrison County, Mississippi, Sheriff’s Office, and Liberty County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke.