BOISE – Mark Alan Saltzer, 45, of Boise, Idaho, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to sexual exploitation of children by producing sexually explicit images of minors, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Saltzer was arrested on August 17, 2012, at his home after federal investigators served a search warrant. Two minor boys were at the residence at the time of Saltzer’s arrest. As a part of his plea agreement, Saltzer admitted repeatedly sexually molesting one of the youths at his home, starting in the summer of 2012. Saltzer has been in custody since August 17.
The investigation began in October 2010, when the United States Postal Inspection Service, in conjunction with Toronto Police Services in Canada, initiated an investigation into a private Internet group established by members to communicate with one another about their shared sexual interest in young boys, and to exchange child pornography. Members of the group regularly traded child pornography files with other group members.
The group existed under various names for approximately 15 years. According to court documents, Saltzer had been a member of the group for more than a decade. Participants in the group resided in Idaho, New York, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, Canada, Lebanon, and Mexico, among other places.
According to the plea agreement, Saltzer admitted meeting boys between the ages of 10 and 17 in Internet chat rooms and engaging them in webcam sessions during which he encouraged them to masturbate. He used Skype and recorded webcam footage of the teenage boys performing sexual acts. Saltzer admitted using special software that allowed him to import a video of a child about 14 years old masturbating, and show that video to the boy with whom he was chatting, so it appeared that he was chatting with another teenager, instead of an adult.
According to the plea agreement, Saltzer admitted that between 2006 and 2012, he produced sexually explicit videos of numerous boys between the ages of 11 and 17.
The charge of sexual exploitation of children by producing sexually explicit images of minors is punishable by from 15 to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a minimum term of five years up to lifetime supervised release. The government is seeking forfeiture of the computer equipment used in the offense.
There is no possibility of parole in federal cases.
Sentencing is set is set for October 15, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Boise.
“Those who victimize children by producing and distributing images of children being sexually abused will be identified, investigated and prosecuted,” said Olson. “Today’s guilty plea sends the strong message that local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies will work together in an efficient and coordinated manner to bring these predators to justice.”
The case was investigated by United States Postal Inspection Service inspectors from Boise, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and the Indiana State Police. Officers from the Boise Police Department, Meridian Police Department and Idaho State Police assisted locally. The Ada County Prosecuting Attorney originally brought charges against Saltzer, which will be dismissed because of today’s guilty plea.
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 Attorneys’ 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.usdoj.gov/psc.
For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”