INDIANAPOLIS—Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that former FBI agent Donald J. Sachtleben, age 54, of Carmel, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing and distributing child pornography.
“The mission of our Project Safe Childhood initiative is to investigate and prosecute anyone found to engaged in the sexual exploitation of children,” Hogsett said. “Today’s announcement underscores this serious commitment and should make clear that no matter who you are, you will be brought to justice if you are found guilty of such criminal behavior.”
According to the criminal complaint unsealed today, federal and state law enforcement became aware of an individual allegedly 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 e-mail accounts allegedly revealed that he had been actively trading such materials online with numerous other people.
Based on that information, law enforcement were then able to trace the alleged online activity of one of those other individuals 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.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. DeBrota, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Sachtleben could face up 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. A probable cause and detention hearing are scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kennard P. Foster on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Sachtleben will remain in custody until that time.
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.