Former California prison inmate pleads guilty to distributing child pornography from his jail cell to Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former California prison inmate, incarcerated for state sex offenses, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to using a smuggled cell phone to distribute child pornography from his jail cell via the Internet.

This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the California State Prison security office.

Eric Lee Bederson, 37, an inmate at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to two counts of distributing child pornography. At the time he committed these offenses, Bederson was serving a 16-year state sentence in California for the aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse and abusive sexual conduct of a minor.

Bederson admitted that he used smuggled cell phones to distribute numerous images and videos of child pornography to an undercover federal agent. Between Sept. 29 and Oct. 8, 2011, he sent six emails to an undercover HSI special agent in Missouri, which included a total of 164 images and 10 videos of child pornography. Bederson sent this child pornography with the hope and expectation that the undercover agent (and others) would reciprocate by sending child pornography to him in return. Bederson also admitted that his email accounts contained multiple gigabytes of emails and attachments of child pornography.

Under federal statutes, Bederson is subject to a mandatory sentence of 15 to 80 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

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