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Massachusetts football coach, after-school program worker pleads guilty on child porn charges

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BOSTON – A Cambridge man pleaded guilty this week in federal court in Boston to child pornography offenses.

Robert Wharton, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for April 2, 2021. Wharton was arrested and charged on July 30, 2020.

Federal investigators developed evidence that a user of the Kik messaging application had electronically transmitted funds to another individual in exchange for access to internet links containing child pornography. The investigation revealed that those funds originated from Wharton and that Wharton resided in an apartment in Cambridge. During a search of Wharton’s apartment, Kik messages that Wharton had exchanged with the person to whom he had sent funds were discovered. In addition, various images and videos depicting naked children were found on Wharton’s phone, including a pornographic video that Wharton had received via the Telegram messaging application; this video depicts a young child performing oral sex on an adult.

The charge of receipt of child pornography provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 20 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possession of child pornography provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The Cambridge Police Department provided valuable assistance along with the Arlington, Newton and Revere Police Departments and the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Abely, Chief of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.

According to Cambridge Day, Wharton taught a daily kindergarten program at the after-school program for the Kennedy Community School & Neighborhood Council.

Wharton was also a volunteer assistant coach with Somerville Pop Warner Football, according to Cambridge Day.

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