John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MARK FELNER, 31, of Clinton, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to one count of receipt of child pornography stemming from his interactions with an underage victim in 2015 and 2016.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on multiple occasions in 2015, Felner, who was 26 at the time, traveled from Connecticut to North Carolina to engage in illegal sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl. In 2015 and 2016, when Felner and the minor victim were not physically together, the victim, at Felner’s instruction, sent pornographic images of herself through social media messaging services.
Felner was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on October 8, 2019. A memory card seized from Felner at the time of his arrest revealed pornographic images that he had received from the minor victim.
Judge Thompson scheduled sentencing for October 7, 2020, at which time Felner faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Felner will also be required to register as a sex offender as a result of his conviction.
Felner is released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New London and East Lyme Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret Donovan and Neeraj Patel.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.