Greenbelt, Maryland – Charles Bertsch, age 59, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to distribution of child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore; and Worcester County Sheriff Reggie T. Mason, Sr.
According Bertsch’s plea agreement, FBI Task Force agents in Maryland began an investigation into Bertsch after various law enforcement agencies downloaded child pornography via a file-sharing network from IP addresses which led back to Bertsch. In an interview with law enforcement, Bertsch acknowledged that by connecting his computer and downloading such images, he was simultaneously enabling others to download child pornography from his hard drive. A forensic examination of Bertsch’s electronic devices, seized pursuant to a search warrant, revealed over 100,000 image files and over 2,000 video files of child pornography.
As part of his plea agreement, Bertsch must register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Bertsch faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison, followed by up to lifetime of supervised release, for distribution of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing for January 31, 2019, at 1:00 p.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur and Mr. Benczkowski thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin and Trial Attorney Nadia Prinz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), who are prosecuting the federal case.