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      Judge sentences Florence man who faked his own death

      Harvey Cox, 60, will spend the next 20 years in prison for faking his death to avoid a Criminal Sexual Conduct charge and causing a rescue mission that lasted several days and involved a number of agencies, as well as possessing child pornography.

      When Cox is released from prison, he will be subject to supervised release for life, according to United States Attorney William Nettles.

      Cox was also ordered to pay $51,094.25 in restitution to the U.S. Coast Guard for the cost of the search and rescue operation.

      Cox pleaded guilty last March.

      Police in Florence and Marlboro counties were investigating Cox for an alleged sexual assault on a minor. They were scheduled to meet with him on January 19th, 2011 but two days before that, he vanished.

      His truck was found parked at the public boat landing in Murrells Inlet on January 18th, 2011, and his fishing boat was found drifting in the inlet with his wallet and car keys inside.

      The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources notified the US Coast Guard, which began a search.

      The U.S. Marshal Service, with assistance from state authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, found Cox and he was arrested in Silver Springs, Florida on March 3, 2011.

      During the investigation to locate and arrest Cox, authorities obtained Polaroid photographs of a minor victim depicting sexually explicit conduct which were hidden in Cox's residence, Nettles said.

      Authorities also located, at both Cox's business and his home, two Polaroid cameras and bedding that was present in the photographs. Further, authorities identified and located the victim in the photographs.

      The victim, who was no longer a minor, said Cox had sexually abused the victim over several years and he had taken the photographs over a period of time beginning when the victim was approximately 12 years old. Cox had written dates on some of the photographs which further corroborated the age of the victim at the time the photographs were taken.