ALLEN, Texas — A north Texas man has been sentenced to 35 years in federal prison on child pornography charges.
Last week's sentencing comes after 41-year-old Richard Denver Belden of Allen, Texas, was arrested in May 2018 and later found to have 57 terabytes of child pornographic images, some of which, according to federal prosecutors, contained depictions of toddlers and sadistic or masochistic abuse.
Investigators first learned of Belden in May 2018 after a Plano Police Department detective, conducting an undercover investigation into internet programs known for trading child pornography, made contact with Belden — ultimately downloading over 4,000 images and videos of child pornography, made available by Belden, over the course of two days.
Based off this information, investigators with the Collin County Sheriff's Office and the Plano Police Department executed a search warrant at Belden's Allen apartment on May 15, 2018.
Upon entering the residence, police say they found Belden to be actively downloading and distributing child pornography on a laptop.
Investigators seized a computer tower with 15 hard drives containing over 57 terabytes of storage.
"The Plano Police Department and FBI child exploitation task force spent months forensically analyzing Belden's digital media," read a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Texas. "Officers located thousands of images and videos of child pornography, including depictions of children as young as toddlers and depictions of sadistic or masochistic abuse."
Belden was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2018, plead guilty to receipt and possession of child pornography on June 20, 2019, and was sentenced to 420 months in federal prison on February 6, 2020, by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.
Belden had faced a punishment range between 210 to 262 months but, federal prosecutors requested Mazzant vary upwards and impose a 420 month imprisonment term based on Belden's "history and characteristics, and nature and circumstances of his offense."
Mazzant agreed — granting the prosecutors motion and sentencing Belden to the 35-year sentence to be followed by 20 years of supervised release.
“These type of cases show the real depravity of parts of our society,” stated U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “We are fortunate that law enforcement is out there looking for these people.”
“Today’s result is the product of the outstanding collaboration between the FBI and its local partners,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno at the time of sentencing. “The FBI, through the North Texas Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, will continue to work tirelessly to keep our kids safe. This lengthy sentence will hopefully serve as a warning for all those who would seek to prey on the most vulnerable among us.”
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. 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.
This case was investigated by the North Texas Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which is made up of FBI agents and officers from the Dallas, Plano and Grand Prairie Police Departments and Collin County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Miller.