Air­line mogul re­ceives 30 years for child porn

The Pan Amer­i­can Air­ways founder says he was framed.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

BROWNSVILLE — The founder of a South Texas cargo air­line was given 30 years in prison Wed­nes­day for fed­eral child pornog­ra­phy charges, af­ter un­der­cover of­fi­cers pos­ing as young teenage girls said they caught him en­gag­ing them in ex­plicit on­line chats.

Robert L. Hedrick, 61, who blamed former busi­ness as­so­ci­ates for con­spir­ing to frame him, said that he couldn’t apol­o­gize for crimes he didn’t com­mit.

“I can’t ask the court for any­thing,” Hedrick said Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to the Brownsville Her­ald. “I was framed. I didn’t do what I was charged and con­victed of.”

Pros­e­cu­tors had asked for 90 years in prison, but the fed­eral judge set sen­tences on other charges to run con­cur­rently due to Hedrick’s age, the news­pa­per re­ported.

Hedrick founded Pan Amer­i­can Air­ways, a cargo air­line he set up in a build­ing that once be­longed to Pan Amer­i­can World Air­ways — the once-renowned air­line that col­lapsed in 1991. Hedrick’s air­line ran flights be­tween the U.S. and Latin Amer­ica. He was also pres­i­dent of a global pool sup­ply com­pany and a lo­gis­tics com­pany, ac­cord­ing to trial tes­ti­mony.

Hedrick tes­ti­fied on his own be­half in May, jump­ing from se­cret government con­tracts dur­ing the Cold War to busi­ness dis­putes to a failed mar­riage.

Pros­e­cu­tors pre­sented ev­i­dence at trial ty­ing Hedrick to the chats with un­der­cover of­fi­cers pos­ing as 13- and 14-yearold girls. They said Hedrick sent de­tec­tives 136 im­ages of adult and child pornog­ra­phy and played in court an au­dio­tape of Hedrick talk­ing ex­plic­itly about sex.

Au­thor­i­ties found more than 2,400 im­ages and 18 child pornog­ra­phy videos on Hedrick’s lap­top and two ex­ter­nal hard drives, pros­e­cu­tors said. Some of the chil­dren in the ma­te­ri­als were later iden­ti­fied as known vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault, pros­e­cu­tors said.

De­fense at­tor­neys de­nied it was Hedrick at the key­board, try­ing to use the In­ter­net’s thin veil of anonymity to raise doubts among ju­rors, and claimed he had a long list of en­e­mies with the mo­ti­va­tion and money to set him up.

Hedrick was also or­dered to pay $5.4 mil­lion in resti­tu­tion.

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