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Effingham man sentenced in child porn case
Brooklet man sentenced earlier in same case
Charles Casey Gardner
Charles Casey Gardner

An Effingham County man who admitted to producing child pornography was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in federal prison.

Carl Scott Ruger of Guyton was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to Production of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Ruger to pay restitution of $1.5 million, and after completion of his prison term to register as a sex offender and serve a life term of supervised release.

In the same case, Charles Casey Gardner, 41, of Brooklet was sentenced earlier this year and is serving 15 years also after pleading guilty to Production of Child Pornography.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“Carl Ruger is a loathsome, dangerous predator, and our streets are safer now that he is behind bars,” Estes said. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we will relentlessly work to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Another related defendant also is serving a federal prison term after pleading guilty to Production of Child Pornography. Richard Hunt Moore, 50, of Hephzibah, Ga., is serving 22 years in prison. A fourth target in the investigation killed himself in Illinois before questioning.

According to Estes, the four men came to the attention of law enforcement agencies in January 2019 when Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a hotel in Martinez, Ga. A hotel employee was alerted by a 14-year-old boy accompanying Moore and contacted authorities.

After questioning Moore, sheriff’s office investigators and the FBI found images of child pornography on Moore’s phone. The images led to the discovery of the other defendants.

The Augusta Chronicle reported on Moore's arrest that the incident took place at the Red Roof Inn on Belair Frontage Road. A 14-year-old boy picked up a motel employee's cellphone and typed the message "Help Me," and the employee quickly contacted authorities, the newspaper reported.

As referenced during his sentencing hearing, prior to his 2019 arrest, Ruger, 42, worked in custodial positions in multiple Georgia counties including as a substitute teacher, bus driver, deputy jailer and as a corrections officer in state and federal prisons.

“This case is a great example of the relationship between the community and law enforcement working together to keep our communities safe,” said Maj. Sharif Chochol, with the Field Operations Bureau of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. “’If you see something, say something’ is more than just a catch phrase; it works. A child predator has been taken down thanks to an observant citizen and a team of dedicated law enforcement professionals.”

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