A former Orange County Boy Scout leader could serve from five to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty this week to receiving child pornography.
Attorneys for Brian Joseph Burnham, 36, of Chapel Hill, filed the plea agreement Monday with the U.S. District Court in Greensboro. As part of the plea agreement, a second charge of distributing child pornography could be dismissed, according to court records.
Burnham also could be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $250,000, register as a sex offender and be under supervision for at least five years after he is released from prison. He has agreed to forfeit his Apple Mac Pro desktop computer as part of the agreement.
A judge will consider the plea agreement at Burnham’s sentencing hearing.
Burnham is accused of receiving child pornography through interstate mail, shipping or transport beteween January 2009 and Nov. 20, 2014.
He denied, in a statement filed with the court, having Internet or other conversations of a sexual nature with any minor since November and has been under 24-hour house arrest since February.
Although evidence in the case has been sealed, pretrial release documents show Orange County Sheriff’s Investigator Chan McDade spoke with three alleged “juvenile male victims,” who he said had talked with Burnham about sexual topics by Internet or cell phone.
McDade also reported speaking with current and former Boy Scouts, parents and leaders, as well as current and former players, parents and coaches with the Smith Middle School baseball team. Burnham is a former coach at the Chapel Hill school.
The court has sealed documents detailing the content of any conversations.
Burnham was a longtime assistant scoutmaster with the Occoneechee Council’s Boy Scout Troop 845 in Carrboro. John Akerman, an Occoneechee Council spokesman, has declined to comment about Burnham’s arrest.
Burnham’s attorneys submitted 33 letters from friends, family and former Scouts attesting to his good character, community contributions and dependable, loyal nature. Most had known Burnham for many years; all were aware of the charges.