- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2019

An Air Force colonel who flew more than 100 sorties in combat in Iraq is now facing five years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court in Virginia to receiving child pornography.

Col. Mark Visconi, 48, admitted to both soliciting and accepting images of child pornography over the internet between November 2015 and June 2016, federal prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty on Oct. 4 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Officials with the Department of Justice said Col. Visconi, a Fairfax resident, used an online bulletin board operating on an anonymous open source software network known as TOR or “The Onion Router” to download the illicit images.

“A forensic review of his laptop showed that Visconi downloaded and viewed numerous child pornography images and videos,” prosecutors said in a statement after his guilty plea.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Washington found images on his cell phone that indicated Col. Visconi was taking “upskirt” shots of minor girls.

“It does not appear that any of the girls were aware that pictures were taken,” officials said.

Col. Visconi, a special operations pilot, is a 1993 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Pentagon documents show. Also an Arabic linguist, he logged 136 combat hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom while training Iraqi air force personnel.

“They risk their lives and the lives of their families every time they put on the uniform, yet they do. That’s a hard thing for most of us to comprehend,” Col. Visconi said in 2007 after receiving an award for his work with Iraqi personnel, according to a U.S. Air Force Academy press release at the time.

It was not clear Tuesday whether he may face a military court martial in addition to the federal court case against him.

Sentencing in the federal court case is set for January 2020. Col. Visconi is facing five years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

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