From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
Charles F. Wheat, III, age 38, of Bel Air, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to producing sexually explicit images of five minor girls while they used a bathroom in his home, using a hidden camera.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Baltimore; and Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
According to his plea agreement, between April and November 2020, Wheat used a hidden camera to produce sexually explicit images of five minor girls while they used a bathroom in his home. During that same time, Wheat was in communication with three female sex traffickers in the Philippines to whom Wheat provided payment in exchange for them sending Wheat images and videos of minors being sexually exploited.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Wheat sent sexually explicit images he produced of three of the minor female victims to two Filipino women. One of the women who received the images was also depicted in several videos found on Wheat’s phone engaged in sexual conduct with a prepubescent boy. Some of the videos also depict a prepubescent girl whom the woman encourages to engage in sex acts with the boy.
Wheat faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for production of child pornography. Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for January 17, 2024, at 10:30 a.m.
As detailed in the plea agreement, upon his release from prison, Wheat will also be required to register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HSI and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office for its work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam K. Ake, who prosecuted the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-childhood and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.