Former PSL officer sentenced to life in prison

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 04:59:40-04

A former Port St. Lucie police officer has been sentenced to life in federal prison after pleading guilty to several child exploitation and child pornography charges.

A federal judge in Fort Pierce imposed the sentence on 28-year-old Michael Edwin Harding.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that Harding admitted to distributing videos and photos to internet chat rooms of young children engaged in sex acts.

Many of the images were discovered during examination of Harding's cellphone, which authorities say he used to create his own child sex videos. More images were found on thumb drives and other devices.

The case is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide effort to combat child sexual exploitation led by the Homeland Security Investigations arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.