GREENSBORO, N.C. – A Mount Airy, N.C., man who sent a child pornography video to an individual he believed to be a 13-year-old girl was sentenced to 20 years in prison today, announced Matthew G.T. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
WALTER CLIFTON WOOD, 44, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2020, to transportation of child pornography. He was sentenced today by United States District Judge Catherine C. Eagles to 240 months of imprisonment followed by 15 years of supervised release.
Beginning in May 2018, WOOD chatted online with an individual purporting to be a 13-year-old girl, but who was actually an undercover detective with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. WOOD repeatedly directed the conversation to topics of a sexual nature and encouraged the purported 13-year-old to engage in sex acts. Twice during the communication, once in May and again in July 2018, WOOD sent a video depicting an adult engaging in a sex act with a twelve-year-old girl. WOOD was arrested on July 27, 2018 in Surry County and has been in custody since.
When investigators with Homeland Security Investigations reviewed WOOD’s phones they discovered over 75 child pornography images and videos. They also learned that WOOD had engaged in an extended and sexually inappropriate online relationship with an actual minor from approximately May 2014 to June 2015.
This case was investigated by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office with support from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. All are members of the North Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
The referenced Alamance County Sheriff’s Office undercover operation resulted in eighteen arrests and, to date, thirteen convictions in state and federal courts. Former Alamance County Sheriff’s Office ICAC investigator Zachary M. Neefe developed and executed the operation. During its course, he was assisted by HSI Special Agent Cory E. Brant, Special Agent Jessie G. Foster, and Computer Forensic Analyst Mark Vincenc.
Three other cases resulting from the operation were prosecuted in the Middle District of North Carolina:
These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric L. Iverson. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.