Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that former FBI agent Donald J. Sachtleben, age 54, of Carmel, has filed a petition to plead guilty to charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. As part of the defendant’s agreement to plead guilty, Sachtleben will pay restitution to an identified victim portrayed in the images and videos he allegedly possessed.
“Our Project Safe Childhood team is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting anyone who is found to have sexually exploited children – no matter who they are,” Hogsett said. “Most importantly, we are similarly committed to identifying the silent victims of these crimes, and providing them the assistance and restitution they deserve.”
According to the criminal complaint filed one year ago, federal and state investigators became aware of an individual trading images of child pornography online in September 2010. An extensive investigation into that individual led to the arrest of a defendant in Illinois in January 2012. Upon arrest, a forensic search of that defendant’s computer equipment and email accounts allegedly revealed that he had been actively trading the explicit materials online with numerous other people.
Based on that information, law enforcement were able to trace the alleged online activity to Sachtleben’s home in Carmel. After conducting surveillance over a period of days, a search warrant was obtained on May 3, 2012 and was subsequently executed by law enforcement officers from the Indiana State Police and the FBI Cyber Crime Task Force.
The complaint alleges that an initial forensic examination of Sachtleben’s laptop computer revealed the presence of approximately 30 images and video files containing child pornography. It is alleged that a number of files identified during this initial search matched those that had been found in the course of investigating the Illinois defendant. The complaint further alleges that the laptop’s hard drive contained references to other files known to have been in the possession of the Illinois defendant.
Court documents filed today indicate that Sachtleben has petitioned the federal court to enter a plea of guilty to charges that he knowingly possessed and distributed child pornography. The agreement to plead guilty also includes restitution payments of $20,000 to an identified victim portrayed in the materials Sachtleben allegedly possessed.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Sachtleben could face 5 to 20 years in prison for the distribution charge, and up to 10 years for the possession charge. Both charges also carry up to a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervised release if he is found to be guilty.
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 on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
A criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.