A Savannah man has admitted he distributed child pornography from inside a state prison transitional center after serving a sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.
Melton Andrew Padgett Jr., 47, of Savannah, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The plea subjects Padgett to a possible statutory sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison, along with substantial financial penalties, followed by a period of supervised release of five years to life.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“This defendant is a shocking example of a child predator who shared videos of child exploitation even as his sentence for a previous offense was nearing its end,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to be vigilant in removing such criminals from our community.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Georgia’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in March 2020 received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that led investigators to Padgett. In his guilty plea, Padgett admitted sharing videos of child exploitation through a social media messaging service. At the time Padgett shared these images of child pornography Padgett was completing a state term of imprisonment and was being housed in the Coastal Transitional Center in Savannah. Padgett has prior convictions for child molestation and failing to register as a sex offender.
“This predator has not gotten the message that he cannot continue to prey upon our children or share these disturbing images with others involved in this depravity,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Cases like this strengthen the resolve and the commitment that HSI and its law enforcement partners have to protect our children and our communities.”
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Savannah Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer J. Kirkland and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.