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Towson man sentenced to 42 months for possession of child porn

A 24-year-old Towson man was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 42 months in prison for possession of child pornography.

Federal prosecutors said Nicholas Haxall Johnson pretended to be a 15-year-old boy online to communicate with 13- and 14-year-old girls. They said he discussed sexual topics with the girls and encouraged them to send them naked pictures of themselves.

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In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. ordered 20 years of supervised release for Johnson. He also must register as a sex offender.

Johnson pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography last year. According to his plea agreement, an investigation began in September 2013, when a Baltimore County detective using a file-share program saw that Johnson had child-pornography files available for downloading. The following month, investigators searched Johnson's home and seized his laptop and external hard drive.

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A search turned up more than 250,000 images, most of which depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the plea agreement. Investigators also seized hundreds of prescription pills, including Adderall and Ritalin, from his home.

Defense attorney David Irwin emphasized that Johnson had "never, ever had physical contact with a person of inappropriate age."

"This was something that happened in his past, and he's over this stage in his life," Irwin said.

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