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Tag: child porn

Judge: FBI’s Investigation of Child Pornography Unconstitutional, But Refused to Dismiss Evidence

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s controversial investigation into a “dark web” child pornography network was unconstitutional, Minnesota’s chief federal judge ruled Monday.

But U.S. District Judge John Tunheim declined to toss evidence that was used to prosecute a man from Coleraine, Minn., the Star Tribune reports

The judge rejected a magistrate judge’s recommendation to throw out evidence, including statements made by suspect Terry Lee Carlson.

Carlson was among more than 900 people arrested as part of the investigation into Playpen, a “dark web” network that provided child pornography to 150,000 users.

The Star Tribune wrote:

Tunheim’s decision mirrored numerous other federal court rulings in concluding that agents unconstitutionally exceeded the scope of a Virginia search warrant. The FBI deployed a “network investigative technique (NIT),” described by some as a form of malware, to gather IP addresses and other information on users of the porn website, which formed the backbone of federal criminal cases like Carlson’s and those of at least three other Minnesotans.

But, citing a Supreme Court precedent, Tunheim wrote that because the FBI “acted in good faith and generally followed proper procedures in requesting and executing the warrant,” evidence gathered against Carlson can stand.

The FBI arrested the operator of Playpen in 2015 and seized the website’s server. But it kept a copy of the website running while deploying its NIT to target hundreds of users around the country based on a search warrant signed by a Virginia magistrate judge.

FBI Arrests Seattle-Area Couple Accused of Plotting to Drug, Rape And Record Children

Michael Kellar, 54, and Gail Lynn Burnworth, 50.

Michael Kellar, 54, and Gail Lynn Burnworth, 50.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has arrested a Seattle-area couple accused of planning to drug, rape and record children.

Federal prosecutors allege Michael Kellar, 54, and Gail Lynn Burnworth, 50, conspired to produce child pornography by recording the molestation of two young girls, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports

The couple was arrested after a passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines flight saw an explicit text message exchange about the plot.

In one text, Kellar allegedly wrote to Burnworth: “You can do this or are you just saying this???”

Burnworth responded: “No I think I can do it if I don’t have parents over my shoulder or worried about who’s going to walk in on me.”

When investigators confronted Kellar, he claimed he was “engaged in fantasy.”

FBI Pays Best Buy Technicians to ‘Ferret Out Child Porn” on Computers

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Technicians for Best Buy’s “Geek Squad City” are being paid by the FBI as part of “a joint venture to ferret out child porn,” according to claims in new federal documents.

The allegations were leveled by lawyers for a California doctor who was charged with possessing child pornography after Best Buy technicians said they found unlawful images on his computer, the Washington Post reports

It has been known that Best Buy’s computer repair facility had a relationship with the FBI, but the new allegations suggest the ties are much deeper the previously believed.

The Post wrote:

While there is no question that Geek Squad technicians have notified authorities after finding child porn, the new court documents assert that there is a deeper relationship than has previously been revealed between the company and federal authorities. The court is now considering the extent of that relationship and whether it is grounds to throw out a pending child porn case, though it could also have ramifications for the dozens of cases which originate from the Kentucky facility annually.

Defense lawyers for the doctor argue that Geek Squad City’s technicians acted as government agents by receiving payments from the FBI, regularly speaking with and referring cases to the FBI, and creating a program to search for child porn. If a government agent wants to search a computer, they need a warrant, and the case has raised issues of privacy invasion and violation of constitutional search and seizure rights.

Affidavit: FBI Took Over 23 Child Porn Sites As Part of International Sting

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI ran 23 child pornography websites as part of an investigation to catch pedophiles, according to newly unsealed documents.

It was revealed last year that the FBI took over a child pornography site called Playpen for 13 days to track users internationally. But an affidavit obtained by the ACLU shows that the FBI oversaw nearly two dozen child pornography sites as part of its “network investigate technique,” which is a form of dark web hacking, the New York Daily News reports. 

“While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user’s actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected,” a passage from the documents said.

“Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user’s actions on Websites 1-23.”

What’s unclear is whether the sites went live.

Ex-Subway Pitchman Jared Fogle Pleads Guilty in Child Porn Case, CNN Reports

Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle has reached a plea agreement that would see him serve between five and 12½ years in prison for child pornography and having sex with a minor, CNN reports.

Fogle was expected to make an appearance in federal court on Wednesday.

CNN reports that court documents show that the charges against Fogle are tied to his relationship with Russell C. Taylor, the executive director of the Jared Foundation, who was arrested more than two months ago on federal child pornography charges.

CNN reported that court documents said:

  • Between 2011 and April 2015, Fogle received from Taylor multiple pornographic images of minors engaging in sexually explicit contact.
  •  Fogle had conversations with Taylor about the child porn, but instead of alerting authorities, he “chose to benefit from such production by obtaining access to a significant amount of such material.”
  • The images and videos were recorded by Taylor at his home through the use of hidden cameras.
  •  Between 2010 and February 2013, Fogle traveled from Indiana to New York to pay to have sex with minors.
  •  One victim told investigators she had sex with Fogle twice when she was 17 in exchange for money, once at the Plaza Hotel and once at the Ritz Carlton, both in New York City.
  • The same minor also said that Fogle had sex with her three other times before 2012, when she was 16.
  • Prosecutors say that text messages, travel records, hotel records and a search of Fogle’s home provided evidence of these arrangements.
  •  The same minor said Fogle had sex with another 16-year-old girl on another occasion.

Ex-Subway Pitchman Jared Fogle Expected to Plead Guilty to Child Porn Charges, CNN Reports

Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jared Fogle, who was long the pitch guy for Subway sandwiches,  is expected to plead guilty to charges related to possession of child pornography,  CNN reports.

CNN cited “two law enforcement officials.”

Subway cut off its relationship with Fogle after authorities raided his home in Indiana.

Fogle’s attorney, Ron Elberger told CNN affiliate WXIN that he had no comment.

FBI Missed Opportunity to Keep Dad Away from Children Before He Killed Self, His Sons

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least 17 months before he killed his children and his staff, Josh Powell was the subject of an FBI investigation in which agents found child porn, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

At the time of the deaths, the FBI was actively investigating the disappearance of Powell’s wife and the discovery of child porn.

An attorney for parents of the wife, Susan Powell, expressed frustration that the investigation was not shared with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, which could have stopped the dad’s visits with the children.

Instead, Josh Powell lit a fire at his rented home in Graham, Wash., in February 2012 and killed himself and his two sons. Powell’s wife has been missing since 2009.

The FBI declined to comment on the case.

Wisconsin DOJ Let 43 Child Porn Cases Languish While Predators Were Free

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Wisconsin Department of Justice let at least 43 tips about suspected child pornography languish for four months or longer, compromising the investigations and keeping children in harm’s way, an internal investigation determined.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the number could be a lot higher, revealing a major lapse in judgment by top officials in the state.

The probe resulted in the terminations of Willie Brantley, the former special agent in charge of the Justice Department’s Milwaukee office, and Anna King, a special agent who worked for him. All the cases were shifted from Madison to Milwaukee between 2011 and 2013, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“While there are examples during the three-year period of other (special agents in charge) holding cases between 60 and 89 days, these are outliers and no other (supervisor) ever held a case longer than that,” according to the letter, written by Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John.

In one case, a 26-year-old man “was left free to allegedly molest an 11-year-old boy he was baby-sitting.”

“We still have concern that other cases under your former supervision, which have now been reassigned, may identify additional victims whose suffering might have been averted had you exercised the most rudimentary supervisory principles,” the letter notifying Brantley of his termination says. “This discipline takes into account the ongoing risk to the public safety that was set in play by your actions.”