By Christine Dolan
U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III Wednesday sentenced Samuel Charles Hardeman, 55, of Easton, Maryland, to 18 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime of supervision following his release, for his attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.
Hardeman had a previous federal conviction in a 2002 case in the Northern District of Georgia for use of a computer to entice a child to engage in sexual activity. He was previously sentenced to 174 months in prison.
Judge Russell ordered that, upon Hardeman’s release from prison, Hardeman must continue to register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, his employment, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”).
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Talbot County Sheriff Joseph Gamble.
According to his guilty plea, from December 11, 2022 through December 26, 2022, Hardeman engaged in conversations with an undercover law enforcement officer (UC) who purported to have a 10- year-old daughter.
During the conversations, Hardeman expressed how he wanted to have sex with the 10- year-old, sent a video containing child pornography to the UC, and made plans to drive to New York, where the UC purportedly lived, to have sex with the 10-year-old.
Hardeman communicated with the UC by phone, including a video call, text, and using encrypted messaging platforms. All of this occurred while Hardeman was on the sex offender registration for the previous federal sex offense conviction.
During a call on December 26, 2022, Hardeman expressed hesitation about traveling to New York to visit the UC and her daughter. The UC did not hear from Hardeman after that time.
On March 14, 2023, a federal search warrant was executed at Hardeman’s residence where several electronic devices were seized.
A forensic examination of one of the phones revealed the encrypted messaging account which Hardeman used to communicate with the UC, a text message thread between Hardeman and the UC, photos sent to Hardeman by the UC at Hardeman’s request, the photos and videos that Hardeman sent to the UC, and dozens of images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Forensic examinations of several other devices and Hardeman’s Cloud storage account recovered additional images of child sex abuse material, including bestiality.
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.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office led by Joe Gamble for their work in the investigation.