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Government contractor sentenced to federal prison for child exploitation

In a case investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a Niceville, Fla., man was sentenced late last week in federal court to serve 70 months in federal prison for receiving child pornography and attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor. (Courtesy photo)

In a case investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a Niceville, Fla., man was sentenced late last week in federal court to serve 70 months in federal prison for receiving child pornography and attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor. (Courtesy photo)

PENSACOLOA, Fla. --

Thomas E. Turner, 58, of Niceville, Fla., was sentenced late last week in federal court to serve 70 months in federal prison for receiving child pornography and attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor.

Turner will also be required to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence as announced by Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

“As demonstrated by this prosecution, federal law enforcement agencies working side-by-side with our international law enforcement partners is making the community safer.” U.S. Attorney Keefe said. “We will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to prosecute those who seek to hurt our children.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The investigation revealed that, in May 2018, an undercover law enforcement officer in Canada was able to identify Turner as someone attempting to communicate with a minor on a social media platform. During the investigation, Turner sent multiple images of pornography to a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. The following month, the investigation found Turner was an employee of a government contractor and was using a computer physically located on Hurlburt Field, Fla., to communicate with minors. Federal search warrants were issued for Turner’s residence and for his computer on Hurlburt Field. During a search, authorities seized multiple electronic devices containing approximately 115 images of child pornography, including some depicting sexual abuse of toddlers.

 “The base populace is now safer due to the combined investigative efforts with our Federal law enforcement partners in Northwest Florida, to bring this offender to justice,” said Special Agent Randy Metzger, Commander, AFOSI Detachment 121 at Hurlburt Field.

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey M. Tharp.

“This child predator thought he was grooming a young girl for exploitation and abuse, but law enforcement worked together to put a stop to his crimes,” said HSI Jacksonville Assistant Special Agent in Charge K. Jim Phillips “This investigation highlights the importance of government agencies’ partnerships making our communities safer for everyone, especially our children.”

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html .