Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Child Exploitation: Former Top Ten Fugitive Eric Justin Toth sentenced to 25 years in prison

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
District of Columbia

WASHINGTON—Eric Justin Toth, 32, a former private school teacher and camp counselor, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison on child pornography and other charges.

Toth left the Washington, D.C. area in 2008 amid an investigation that began with the discovery of pornographic images on a school camera that had been in his possession. After charges were filed against him, he became the subject of an international search and later was placed on the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. He was apprehended in Nicaragua last year and pleaded guilty in December 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The sentence was announced by Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland; John W. Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin; Robert L. Pitman, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas; Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John S. Leonardo, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona; Andrew M. Luger, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota; John McCarthy, State’s Attorney for Montgomery, County, Maryland; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD); and J. Thomas Manger, Chief of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department.

Toth pleaded guilty on December 12, 2013, to three counts of production of child pornography and one count each of misuse of a Social Security number and identity theft. He was sentenced by the Honorable Rudolph Contreras of the District of Columbia, who today accepted a plea agreement signed by the parties.

Following completion of the prison term, Toth will be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life. Upon his release, Toth also must register as a sex offender, receive sex offender treatment, and observe limits on his use of the Internet and his contacts with minors.

The guilty plea resolved charges and potential charges in several jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida.

“For the next 25 years, Eric Toth will be where he deserves to be—in a federal prison where he cannot harm any more children,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Behind bars, Toth will no longer be able to manipulate and sexually exploit our most vulnerable victims. The FBI deserves tremendous credit for tracking Toth to Nicaragua and bringing him to the District of Columbia to face justice. The five-year manhunt that led to his capture demonstrates the depth of our commitment to defending children from sexual predators.”

“Eric Toth spent five years on the run from justice, but today he learned his fate and will spend a substantial time behind bars where he will not be able to harm our children or the community,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “I want to thank the dedicated agents, analysts and prosecutors who spent countless hours vetting tips from the public, chasing leads and eventually tracking down Toth. Their work is representative of the high priority the FBI places on finding those who perpetrate crimes against children.”

“This defendant’s crimes must be answered for,” said State’s Attorney McCarthy. “Thanks to the work of law enforcement forces around the world, Toth will be punished for his reprehensible actions, and his victims will be spared further trauma. Today, justice takes its course.”

“This defendant used his position to exploit vulnerable youth in various communities,” said Chief Lanier. “I am pleased that the efforts of the Metropolitan Police Department, along with our local and federal law enforcement partners, led to this fugitive being captured and ultimately sentenced.”

The investigation of Toth began in June 2008 with the discovery of images depicting child pornography on a camera at a private school in the District of Columbia, where he had been teaching. School administrators called the police, and security officers immediately escorted Toth from the school campus. Toth left the area soon thereafter, while the law enforcement investigation was continuing. Federal charges were filed against him in 2008 in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Toth, meanwhile, remained at large, traveling to multiple places.

Toth was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in April 2012 and finally apprehended in Nicaragua in April 2013.

The three child pornography charges included in the guilty plea stem from photographs and videos that Toth took of children while working in 2005 as a camp counselor in northwest Wisconsin, as a teacher in 2006 at the private school in the District of Columbia, and at a private home in Maryland in 2007. These photographs and videos were located on a camera and media card found at the school in June 2008 and on a thumb drive found in Toth’s car when it was located at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in August 2008. Additionally, Toth pleaded guilty to misuse of a Social Security number for using someone else’s identifying information while working in Texas from 2009 until 2012. The identity theft charge stems from Toth’s use, in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere, of yet another person’s identifying information on a fraudulently obtained passport.

As part of the plea agreement, Toth will not face charges for additional images of child pornography that were found on computers that Toth used. In June 2009, after law enforcement learned that Toth had been living and working at a homeless shelter in Phoenix, authorities discovered a laptop computer that Toth had been using that contained images depicting child pornography. Toth had already left Phoenix at the time of this discovery. In addition, after Toth’s arrest, law enforcement discovered images and videos depicting child pornography on a laptop computer that Toth used when he lived in Texas and Nicaragua.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office; the Metropolitan Police Department; the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department; and other agencies.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassidy Kesler Pinegar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Marie Freitas of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Fenton of the Montgomery County, Maryland, State’s Attorney’s Office.

Assistance during the investigation was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices from the Western District of Wisconsin; the Western District of Texas; the Southern District of Florida; the District of Arizona and the District of Minnesota; the Montgomery County, Maryland, State’s Attorney’s Office; the U.S. Embassy Managua Regional Security Office; the Diplomatic Security Service Criminal Investigative Liaison Branch; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Marshals Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center; and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Sex Offender Tracking Team.

The Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) Commissioner’s Office, the NNP Trafficking in Persons Unit, and the Nicaraguan Immigration Service performed crucial work in securing Toth’s apprehension.

Those assisting from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julieanne Himelstein, Catherine K. Connelly, David Johnson, and Virginia Cheatham and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela Schmidt and Michelle Zamarin. Paralegal Specialist Toni Donato also provided assistance.