MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Marcus Moreno, of LaVilla, Texas, has admitted to sending inappropriate pictures to a minor, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.
Moreno, 27, pleaded guilty today to one count of “Transfer of Obscenity to Minor.” Moreno began communicating with a minor located in Berkeley County, West Virginia, via social media applications such as Snapchat, KIK, WhatsApp, and the minor’s school email accounts. The victim’s parents turned over her phone to investigators. Forensics revealed thousands of text messages, chats, and video communications between the victim and Moreno, dating from October 2018 to January 2019, when the victim was 15 years old. The investigation further revealed thousands of images of child pornography of the victim and obscene pornographic images of Moreno.
In May 2019, during execution of a search warrant Moreno gave a voluntary statement to agents saying he met the victim online in a chat room when she had just turned 14. Three weeks after that first conversation, they began online dating. Though never meeting in person, he told investigators he planned to marry the victim when she turned 18. He admitted to sending obscene images of himself to the victim. During the search of his home, the FBI found thousands of other graphic files and video files of the victim on several flash drives and devices.
Moreno faces up to 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley D. Crockett is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the West Virginia State Police investigated.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble presided.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Northern District of West Virginia