Merrimack man pleads not guilty to federal child pornography charges

CONCORD – A Merrimack man facing federal child pornography charges has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial in Concord next month.

Keith Burns, 41, of 11 Camp Sargent Road, is facing a single count of receipt of child pornography after being indicted by a federal grand jury in December. Burns pleaded not guilty to the charge during a hearing on Dec. 18 and agreed not argue for bail. He’s being held at Valley Street jail, according to court documents.

The court scheduled Burns’ trial for the two-week period beginning Feb. 4, and ordered lawyers to file any final motions before a final conference on Jan. 27, according to court documents.

The trial should be the final step in an investigation that culminated with Burns’ arrest in March by Merrimack police. The case was on hold for months at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua while the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided whether to indict him, according to Superior Court records.

Burns’ arrest came about five years after he was released from prison as a registered sexual offender. He was charged in the state court with four counts of possession of child pornography accusing him of having pictures of a sexual nature of a girl who was 12 or 13 years old at the time.

Hillsborough County prosecutors charged him with targeting a young girl in Oregon and persuading her to send nude photos to him over the Internet. The girl thought she was sending the photos to a boy her age, police said.

The investigation involved police in Merrimack, Milford and Portsmouth, as well as the Jackson County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, police said.

The federal indictment charges Burns with a single count of knowingly receiving two digital images that involved a “minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” according to court records.

Burns has an extensive criminal history that dates back to at least 1993. Most recently he was convicted of indecent exposure and lewdness in 2003 and served five years in prison.

He was convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in 1993 and served nine months in jail, with a deferred sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, according to police.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or