updated 2/17/2006 8:47:29 PM ET 2006-02-18T01:47:29

A federal program that identifies alleged child molesters by publicizing their photographs has led to a life sentence for a five-time sex offender.

James A. Reigle Jr., 46, was convicted in Baltimore federal court in October and sentenced Friday for sexually exploiting minors to produce child pornography, conspiracy to transport child pornography and shipping child pornography.

“As far as we know, this is in fact the first life sentence imposed for a child pornography offense,” U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said.

Reigle, of Harrisburg, Pa., was arrested after an investigation by the federal Endangered Child Alert Program, which allows authorities to get a “John Doe” arrest warrant based solely on lewd photographs.

The suspect’s image is then placed on the FBI’s Web site in hopes of making an identification.

In this case, an FBI agent downloaded an Internet photo in 2003 of a man and a boy engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Besides the FBI Web site, an image of the man was submitted to the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”

After it aired, he was identified as Thomas Evered of Lolo, Mont. The man’s sister saw the program and told his mother, who talked Evered into turning himself in.

Agents then found that Evered and Reigle had been taking pornographic photographs of teenage boys and trading the images over the Internet. Federal agents also found out about a third man, Loren Williams, of Edgewater, Md., who was sentenced to 15 years for producing pornography.

Evered pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography and received a 10-year sentence after agreeing to testify against Reigle.

Before getting the life sentence Friday, Reigle was sentenced in 2002 by a federal judge in Harrisburg to three years in prison for possessing child pornography. He was convicted three previous times on child pornography charges in Pennsylvania state courts, officials said.

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