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Colonel sentenced to five years for child porn

An Air Force colonel who pleaded guilty last year to receiving child pornography was sentenced to five years in prison Friday, the Justice Department said in a release.

Col. Mark Visconi, 48, will follow his prison sentence with 15 years of supervised release, Justice said.

Visconi reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in which he admitted to receiving and attempting to receive child pornography online between November 2015 and June 2016. He pleaded guilty Oct. 4.

In an email, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said that Visconi currently is still a colonel in the Air Force. But now that his sentencing is complete, the Air Force will start the process to remove him from service, she said. If approved, she said, this will mean Visconi will not be able to apply for retirement or receive any other benefit for honorable service.

The department said Visconi used an online bulletin board dedicated to sharing child pornography, operating on the anonymous TOR network, to download the images. Visconi also downloaded and viewed numerous child pornography images and videos.

He also admitted taking hundreds of pictures of minor girls’ clothed buttocks with his cell phone, the plea deal said. Justice said some of those pictures appeared to be “upskirt" images, in which the girls were unaware he was photographing them.

Visconi graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1993 and served as a special operations instructor pilot and Arabic linguist. Last year he was serving as chief of the Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation into Visconi, according to the Justice Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia and attorney Gwendelynn Bills of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of Justice’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of Justice’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement about the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide effort to fight child sexual exploitation and abuse since its launch in May 2006.

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