LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- A former Lincolnton banker was sentenced this week to seven years and three months in prison on his 2011 guilty pleas for using Facebook to distribute child pornography.

James Paul Byrd, 40, has been in local federal custody since pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

Byrd is a former branch manager at First Federal Savings Bank in Lincolnton.

A federal grand jury in November 2010 charged Byrd and five co-defendants from across the country with using the social networking Internet site Facebook to advertise, distribute and access child pornography, according to a federal indictment.

Byrd belonged to several Facebook groups dedicated to sharing child pornography and child erotica, including groups called girls girls girls :) and little girls love to play to :) , court records show. The groups contained at least 10,000 images of child pornography and child erotic, according to court records.

According to the records and statements made in court, Byrd uploaded images of child pornography to the little girls love to play to :) group.

In August 2010, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Byrd s home and seized numerous computers and storage media on which hundreds of child pornography images were found. The images included violent depictions of children being raped and abused.

Mr. Byrd used computer technology, including social media and the Internet, in the worst possible way, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said in a written statement announcing Byrd s sentencing. He viewed and shared child pornography and, in doing so, he perpetuated the victimization of innocent children.

After serving his sentence, Byrd will be placed on 10 years of supervised release, Tompkins said.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees also ordered Byrd to register as a sex offender after he s released from prison.

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