A man who faked his own death and who was found with dozens of pornographic photos of a child was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision.

Harvey Cox, 60, of Florence, was sentenced this afternoon by U.S. District Judge David Norton in a downtown Charleston federal courtroom.

Cox had pleaded guilty to charges of sending a false distress call to the Coast Guard and possession of child pornography on March 19, 2012.

Cox’s attorney had asked for a ten-year sentence, which is the mandatory minimum, according to a federal sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors argued for 20 years in prison.

Cox could have received up to 25 years but prosecutors had agreed to pursue a maximum of 20 years through the plea agreement made with Cox.

The judge agreed with the prosecutors, citing the need to protect the public. Cox was also ordered to pay a restitution of $51,094 to the U.S. Coast Guard for the expenses they incurred when they launched a search for Cox, who had appeared to have gone missing off of his boat in January 2011.

“I’m truly sorry your honor,” Cox said before he was sentenced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Phillips called the crimes “heinous” during his arguments in court. While Cox did not plead guilty to making the pornographic photos, the judge was allowed to consider the allegations about how he took the photos of the child to sentence him.

Cox enticed a 12-to-14-year-old girl to pose for sexually explicit photos, according to Phillips. 46 photos were found in Cox’s home, along with the camera equipment. “I haven’t seen many defendants like this one,” Phillips said.

Some of the photographs had been dated by Cox, according to prosecutors. Cox used the young girl’s ambition to model to manipulate her into posing for photographs, Phillips said. Cox threatened to do the same thing to the victim’s sister if she reported him, according to statements made by the victim to prosecutors.

Florence County Sheriff’s investigators spoke with Cox in January 2011 with plans to interview him about alleged criminal sexual conduct with a minor. By then, authorities from a few different departments wanted Cox on warrants, according to court records.

Days later, a fisherman made a distress call to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources about an unoccupied boat in Murrells Inlet. Investigators found a plastic bag with a wallet and keys, plus Cox’s identification cards, court filings say.

Natural Resources officials requested a search-and-rescue mission from the Coast Guard. That mission ran Jan. 18 and 19 of 2011 and cost more than $50,000, according to court records. Investigators later found Cox in Florida. Cox has 14 days to appeal the sentence.

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.