ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander Balding, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Balding was arrested on May 4, 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with distributing and possessing child pornography in April 2016, in Bernalillo County. The investigation into Balding began on April 6, 2016, when the FBI received a report from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) identifying an IP address that was being used to share child pornography files. According to the criminal complaint, on April 27, 2016, investigators were able to download a number of child pornography files from the computer at the IP address.
Court filings reveal that the IP address was subscribed to a person residing in Balding’s home and the files containing child pornography were downloaded exclusively by Balding. On April 27, 2016, a search warrant was executed at Balding’s residence, and law enforcement officers seized a computer and external hard drive allegedly containing more than 100 files of child pornography. Balding was arrested that day on related state charges, which have since been dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
Balding was indicted on May 24, 2016, and charged with distributing child pornography in April 2016 and possessing child pornography for an unknown period of time that ended on April 27, 2016. Today, Balding entered a guilty plea to the possession of child pornography charge, and admitted possessing child pornography on an external hard drive from April 6, 2016 through April 27, 2016.
Balding remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Balding faces a maximum of 20 years in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. He also will be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison sentence.
This case was investigated by the BCSO, the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Lab. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathon M. Gerson is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico ICAC Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 82 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.