A former Lincolnton merchant has been sentenced for his involvement in a national child pornography ring and will spend at least the next six years behind bars.
A federal judge read James Paul Byrd, 40, his fate Wednesday in a Statesville courtroom, more than a year after he pleaded guilty to the charges. Byrd received a sentence of 87 months in federal prison, according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in the state’s Western district.
He marketed photos of young girls and other child erotica on multiple Facebook pages he managed called “girls, girls, girls : )” and “little girls like to play too : )” along with one by the name of “Stephanie Stewart,” uploading 10,000 images between January and April 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Images located on technology seized from his residence in August 2010 included “violent depictions” of children being raped and abused, the release said.
Byrd admitted to using the page to locate individuals with a sexual interest in pubescent and pre-pubescent females, the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the time of his arrest.
A grand jury indicted Byrd along with five other defendants in November 2010. Byrd pleaded guilty in July 2011 to one count each of distribution of child pornography and conspiracy to distribute, pander and possess child pornography, the release said.
Other individuals accused of participation in the Internet child porn ring also created pages under the names “Buffy Tanner” and “Katy Cat,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Byrd’s also known locally for once owning Byrd’s Sundries, an ice cream shop, on East Main Street, according to the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife bought the property in 2001 and still own the storefront, which currently houses Treasures on Main, the tax office told the Times-News on Thursday.
Following Byrd’s release from federal prison, he’ll be forced to undergo a decade of supervised release and register for a 15-year period as a sex offender.