The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 2, 2014

Child porn maker gets 40 years

MERCER — A federal judge on Friday sentenced a former Mercer man to 40 years in prison for producing and possessing child pornography.

Earl D. Warner, 56, was found guilty by a jury in January of six counts of producing child porn and one count of possessing it.

“Prior to imposing sentence, (U.S. District Court) Judge (Arthur J.) Schwab stated that Warner’s crimes were depraved and violent and that the production and storing of photographs and videos of sexual assaults and abuse of minor children permanently recorded that abuse,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Pittsburgh. “The judge further described the defendant’s conduct as having created a horrific nightmare for the children to live.”

Warner still faces charges filed by state police.

Warner was a peripheral character in the investigation of Armando Cruz, 46, also formerly of Mercer.

In an affidavit for a search warrant of Cruz’s home, an agent of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office said his office was notified by the FBI’s San Diego office that Cruz was believed to be inviting girls under the age of 12 to his home and taking photographs of them in “various stages of dress and undress.”

Two men, Cruz and Brandon W. Schroth, also were in the photos that investigators uncovered.

The photographs were discovered in Denver, where the FBI had searched the home of Jeffrey A. Mueller.

Schroth and Mueller have been prosecuted in other federal courts, each also sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Mueller, a friend of Schroth’s, had computer files entitled “Armcruz/XVkids” and “Brandon,” and a file that was an apparent combination of Cruz’s name and a victim’s name.

The FBI contacted state police for help in identifying the girls, and sent photos showing the girls fully clothed to a trooper. The trooper met with a Mercer school official, reviewed the 2010 school yearbook, and identified the girls. The girls were 9, 10 and 11 during the time the photos were taken, in December 2010.

The trial produced testimony that Warner on four occasions in June 2011 and twice the next month shot photographs or videos of girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Images were found on Warner’s computer and memory cards during an April 2012 search of his home, prosecutors said.

“(T)he hundreds of images and videos produced clearly portray the physical and emotional trauma ... Warner selfishly imposed upon the victims for his own sexual arousal and pleasure,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch said in a sentencing memorandum. “These are violent, unforgivable crimes.”

Bloch called the production of child porn “among the most serious of offenses that come before this court.”

Cruz, who testified at Warner’s trial, pleaded guilty to federal charges of producing child porn and was sentenced in December 2012 to 35 years in prison. He also was sentenced to 8è to 20 years, to be served after his federal sentence ends, on a Mercer County charge of attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Warner also faces state police charges of aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and indecent assault. The case is on the June trial list.

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