'Glee' actor Mark Salling dead of apparent suicide

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The body of former "Glee'' actor Mark Wayne Salling, who was awaiting sentencing for possession of child pornography, was found Tuesday near the Los Angeles River in the Tujunga area, possibly the result of a suicide.

Los Angeles police confirmed that a body was found at 8:50 a.m. in the 11900 block of Big Tujunga Canyon Road, but they did not immediately identify the body or state how the person died.

Salling's attorney, Michael J. Proctor, issued a statement confirming the death.

"I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,'' Proctor said. ``Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment. He is survived by his mother and father, and his brother. The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected.''

TMZ.com, which broke the news of his death, said Salling committed suicide by hanging. His body was found at a baseball field near his home, the website reported.

Salling, 35, was best known for his role as Noah ``Puck'' Puckerman on the now-defunct Fox series.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to possession of child pornography and was scheduled to be sentenced March 7 in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

Salling had agreed to serve at least four years behind bars. The actor had been named in a two-count indictment stemming from a December 2015 raid on his home, where Los Angeles police detectives found thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography, according to court papers.

According to the indictment, Salling received at least one illicit image and a pornographic video of young girls via the internet and was in possession of a 16-gigabyte USB flash drive that contained two videos showing girls who were younger than 12.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joey Blanch told the court that between April and December 2015, Salling used the internet to download 600 videos and about 29,000 images of sexually abusive ``child erotica,'' including some showing ``sadistic and masochistic'' behavior. Victims included children ages 2 to 6 years old, she said.

Salling knew that the material showed ``real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,'' Blanch said.

Although he could have faced up to 20 years in federal prison, Salling's plea deal called for a sentence of between four and seven years behind bars. The actor also agreed to serve 20 years of supervised release once he was released and pay at least $50,000 to each victim seeking restitution, the document shows.