PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Michael Lee DePine, 62, of Pensacola, pleaded guilty today to the production and possession of child pornography. Based upon his guilty plea, he will be required to register as a sex offender. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty plea.
In December 2018, law enforcement officers received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that DePine and a local minor female were engaged in illicit sexual communications and activity via Facebook Messenger. After Homeland Security Investigations and the Pensacola Police Department geo-located DePine’s criminal activity to his Pensacola residence, law enforcement obtained a federal search warrant for the residence.
In January 2019, law enforcement searched DePine’s residence. While searching the residence, DePine was located at his place of employment, Navy Federal Credit Union. A forensic review of DePine’s seized digital media confirmed that he was in possession of multiple child pornographic images and videos of the minor victim. DePine produced these images and videos of the minor female in his bedroom at the residence. The investigation revealed that DePine had been picking the minor female up at her residence in the middle of the night to bring her back to his residence and engage in sexual acts. DePine also provided the minor female with intimate apparel and electronic funds for her expenses.
U.S. Attorney Keefe said: “Tragically, the Internet and social media can allow child predators a gateway to victimize children, the most innocent and vulnerable members of our communities. Together with our investigative partners, we will vigilantly pursue and prosecute those who hurt minors.”
“The harm this predator has caused to a young child is unimaginable to most of society,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. “Thanks to the diligence of our special agents and the Pensacola Police Department, he will be held accountable for that harm, and we hope today’s guilty plea is a small step on the road to recovery for the young survivor of his crimes.”
DePine faces the following penalties:
- Production of Child Pornography – A mandatory minimum of 15 years up to a maximum of 30 years in prison;
- Possession of Child Pornography – A maximum of up to 10 years in prison;
- Registration as a Sex Offender; and
- Forfeiture of his Pensacola residence, his 2016 Lexus, and all the electronics used to commit the offenses.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola.
The case was investigated by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the Pensacola Police Department, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel David L. Goldberg.
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, please 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.
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