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BROWNSVILLE, TX—Mark William Woerner, 55, formerly of Las Vegas, Nev., has been sentenced to 960 months in federal prison for distribution and possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Woerner was convicted by a federal jury on all five counts with which he was charged in June 2011 following one and a half days of trial and less than five minutes of deliberation.
United States District Court Judge Hilda G. Tagle sentenced Woerner to the maximum sentence of 10 years for each of two counts of possessing child pornography and 20 years on each of three counts of distributing child pornography. All sentences were ordered to run consecutively to each other for a total of 80 years in prison without parole. Judge Tagle also ordered him pay a fine of $25,000 and restitution in the amount of $2,246 to the victims.
Woerner was convicted by a jury on June 21, 2011. During trial, testimony and evidence revealed that during two separate undercover operations out of New York and Illinois in April and May of 2010, multiple images and videos of child pornography were downloaded from an online peer-to-peer file-sharing program. After the IP addresses used in each undercover operation were linked to Woerner at his residence in Los Fresnos, Texas, the leads were forwarded to the FBI for further investigation. The government also presented evidence that Woerner sent more than 1,300 images and 90 videos though his e-mail account over a six-month period. A juvenile witness testified that Woerner had given him a thumb drive containing child pornography and had suggested that the juvenile take it to school to share with other students. Woerner possessed and/or distributed more than 8,000 images, which included minors under the age of 12, as well as material that portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.
In ordering a sentence of the maximum term of imprisonment, Judge Tagle noted Woerner’s lack of acceptance of responsibility and his history of exploiting children who trusted him. Judge Tagle also took into account the total number of images and videos involved in the offenses and their content. Woerner’s sentence was further enhanced because he had distributed images and videos of child pornography to minors and requested that they send him child pornography in return and because he had engaged in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of minors. Judge Tagle also found that Woerner had attempted to obstruct justice during the investigation when he solicited the assistance of a fellow inmate to kill an FBI agent in an effort to prevent him from testifying at trial.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carrie Wirsing and V. LaTawn Warsaw, 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, 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
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