All through his trial, former Pan American Airways President Robert L. Hedrick has maintained his innocence of child pornography charges filed against him, but a federal jury did not buy it.
The jury on Monday returned a guilty verdict on all five charges against, after deliberating for about three hours. He will remain in federal custody until his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.
Hedrick had continued to say that he is being framed by enemies and that he had nothing to do with the thousands of pornographic images – some of them underage children - that federal investigators found on his computers.
Hedrick was found guilty of attempting to produce images of child pornography, transfer of obscene materials to a minor, and distribution and possession of child pornography.
Hedrick faces no less than 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison without parole for the attempted production of child pornography count, the U.S Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Transfer of obscene material to a minor carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison while distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
A conviction for possession of child pornography carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Each count also carries a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of no less than five years up to life during which the court can impose any number of conditions designed to protect children. Additionally, registration as a sex offender is mandatory.
Closing arguments were held Monday, wrapping up a weeklong trial in federal court in which jurors were presented with images of child pornography and transcripts on online chats between a screen name alleged to belong to Hedrick and undercover officers posing as underage girls.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Hedrick’s claim that he is being framed by enemies is unfounded and that the only person that possessed the pornographic images is Hedrick himself.
Hedrick was accused of distributing child pornography between March 8 and Sept. 16, 2010, and also between Sept. 14 and Nov. 22, 2010. He was also charged with possessing child pornography on July 18, 2011, the date of his arrest.
According to court documents, detectives in Louisiana and Wisconsin posed as underage girls in chat rooms. The detectives were contacted numerous times through instant messaging by an individual using the Yahoo screen name “sftg007.”
he documents state that “sftg007” shared with the undercover investigators multiple images containing child pornography. Authorities linked the “sftg007” screen name to a person using the name “David Anderson.” They then traced the business address used by Anderson to the same one Hedrick used for billing purposes, the documents state.
The court documents also state that the IP addresses used by “sftg007” were assigned to Hedrick on the dates of the undercover operation.
Defense attorney Ed Stapleton said that anyone could have gotten his or her hands on Hedrick’s computer and that anyone could have hacked into his Internet accounts as well. Hedrick claimed business associates and a cheating wife are behind his downfall.
“Nobody said that they saw Mr. Hedrick do anything. Nobody said they peeked through a window and saw him typing on a computer,” Stapleton said.
“I would suggest there are no certainties in this case,” Stapleton added.
Prosecutors countered that there was plenty of evidence out there that connects Hedrick to “chats” he made to what he believed were underage girls, but were in fact undercover detectives.
“He tried repeatedly to get people he believed were minors to send him sexually explicit photos. In less than a minute, the chats turned sexual,” Warsaw said.