As Seen Through the Eyes of his Mother, Bette Brown
Written February 23, 2009
Chapter 1 - September 18, 2006 - January 18, 2007
Chapter 2 - January 18, 2007 - October 2, 2007
Chapter 3 - October 3, 2007 - January 3, 2008
Chapter 4 - January 2008 - March 2008
Chapter 5 - April 2008 - November 2, 2008
Chapter 6 - Trial - November 3-10, 2008
Sentencing - January 21, 2009
Child porn found on 20,000 computers in Virginia
Police Launch Massive Child Porn Crackdown
Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog - Tami Loehrs
The following is an attempt to record the events in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. NATHANIEL SOLON. Since, I am the mother of the Defendant, I am prejudiced. I have, throughout the chapters that follow, tried to present an unemotional chronology of what happened.
However, in this Introduction, I will state what I BELIEVE happened. Intelligent, non-hysterical people say I am wrong. But, if I am wrong, why did this relentless pursuit happen? Why has it continued?
Ned is a felon. In 2000 he was sentenced to federal prison for a drug charge. He was guilty. He pleaded guilty. The Prosecution offered plea deals if he would testify before the Grand Jury and turn over “names.” Ned refused. It is not in Ned’s nature to do that. He takes responsibility for his actions. This was displeasing to the Prosecution. They had hoped to indict a conspiracy ring. Ned’s attorney told me at the time, “The government does not forget if you refuse to go before the Grand Jury.” Ned served his time in Florence, Colorado at the prison camp and was released early for good behavior. He received no benefit for turning over “names.”
Ned came home on probation and got a job immediately. He is an excellent worker. The length of probation was five years. Probation means you are under the government’s control. Therefore, you can expect the probation officer to come at any time. The end of his probation was approaching when agents came knocking with a search warrant. He was blown away when he heard the purpose of the search.
With all the thousands of potential offenders reported to the authorities by Flint Waters (information on Flint Waters is attached), why in the world did they pursue Ned so vigorously? I think it was “payback time” for not testifying years ago. Now, I will report as honestly as I can; you decide.
James C. Anderson, the Prosecutor, works for the US Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has issued guidelines to be followed in these matters. I will cite USE OF COMPUTERS IN THE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN, Portable Guides to Investigating Child Abuse (hereinafter referred to as “Guidelines”) throughout this report. It seems reasonable to me that James C. Anderson should be expected to follow his Department’s Guidelines.
September 18, 2006 – January 18, 2007
The story begins for Ned on September 21, 2006. Special Agent Nicole Balliett of Homeland Security and Special Agent Randy Huff of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) visited Ned at work. They represented Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC). They had obtained a warrant on September 18, 2006, to search Ned’s Home. During a scan of the Casper area by nationally known Flint Waters of Wyoming’s ICAC (see articles attached), Ned’s computer had been identified as potentially trading child pornography.
They asked if he had “any kind of file sharing programs” on his computer. Ned answered, “I have Limewire.” That is a legal file-sharing program, used by many to download music and games. They announced they were going to his home to search. He was not under arrest. He could go along if he wished. Of course, Ned went.
They did not read Ned his Miranda Rights. He knew he had done nothing wrong. The tapes of the interviews clearly indicate that he was in a state of shock. He cooperated fully with the search. He offered them access to everything in the home, more than they requested. There were six agents searching the home.
Agent Randy Huff “searched” the computer. “At the scene, you will not be able to determine whether the suspect’s computer contains recoverable erased files and should not try.” Guidelines, Pg 15
“Make sure someone with expertise and training in the seizure of computers for criminal investigations is present when you execute the search warrant.” Guidelines, Pg 12
“You must have the entire computer system to replicate the suspect’s use of it and to analyze that use.” Guidelines, Pg 11
“Remember that the computer and all of its contents constitute evidence.” Pg 12
“Keep the suspect’s computer system in tact.” It is best to move the system as a whole, with all components still connected together, if at all possible. Guidelines, Pg 14
“If you must disassemble the computer system, first take pictures of it. Photograph the front and back of the system before you physically move it to identify how it is set up. For purposes of analysis and courtroom presentation, a computer specialist can use the photographs to put the system back together exactly as the suspect used it.” Pg 14
The Agents found absolutely NOTHING in the computer and absolutely NOTHING in the home to indicate there was any involvement in child pornography. Ned told them he had been home alone the night before and had played poker until about 9:15, his usual bedtime. This information was used against him repeatedly during trial. They contended: He admitted he was home alone on September 20, 2006; therefore, he was guilty.
The search warrant clearly outlined the items to be taken. It included the “entire computer system and all computer-related material.” This wording in the warrant mirrors closely the instructions in Guidelines, Pg 11: “Your application for the warrant should include facts that justify the seizure of all components of the suspect’s computer system, namely, the base unit, each peripheral device, and all software, manuals, data storage media and related items.”
“The rule to follow is, ‘If you don’t know what to do, don’t touch it.’ Secure the system until you can find someone with the proper expertise to handle the equipment safely.” Pg 12
However, when Agent Huff found nothing in the computer, he proceeded to open the computer and remove only the hard drive. All other items named on the warrant and in the Guidelines were left in the home and not taken into evidence. “Mishandling of computer equipment or improper investigative techniques that violate a defendant’s rights can result in the loss of valuable evidence. Once that information is lost, it may be impossible to recover.” Guidelines, Pg 2 The Router left behind was particularly valuable and was now unavailable to be used as evidence for the Defendant. The Department of Justice defines the Router on Page 88 of its INVESTIGATIONS INVOLVING THE INTERNET AND COMPUTER NETWORKS, as follows:
“A device that determines the next network point to which a data packet should be forwarded to reach its destination. The router is connected to at least two networks and determines which way to send each data packet based on its current understanding of the state of the networks it is connected to.”
The Agents left with the hard drive. Ned did not contact an attorney. He did not contact his father or mother. He knew he had done nothing wrong. He bought a new hard drive and foolishly tried to forget the matter.
January 18, 2007 – October 2, 2007
January 18, 2007. The Wyoming Grand Jury filed a secret indictment charging Ned “did knowingly possess a Maxtor hard drive, serial number Y35609QE, containing digital images of child pornography; said digital images including but not limited to (then follows a list of disgusting titles); said images being produced using materials including the Maxtor hard drive, that was mailed, or shipped, or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”
January 20, 2007. The authorities appeared at Ned’s door, read his Miranda Rights and arrested him. Ned has been incarcerated since this date.
A full-time government employee was appointed as public defender. No bond hearing was held. It quickly became obvious this attorney believed his job was to process defendants directly to prison. He did not understand “not guilty.” This legal representation lasted one month. The family then hired attorney, Frank Chapman of Casper, Wyoming’s Defense Attorney of the Year in 2006.
After pleading “Not Guilty,” Ned began a long journey from one county jail to another throughout Wyoming and Colorado. The relocations to the jails in Akron and Sterling, Colorado, appeared to be attempts to “encourage” him to accept a plea agreement. Tim, who lives in Cheyenne, has faithfully made the trips to visit Ned each week. The least amount of miles for Tim to travel to a jail was 115 miles one-way to Wheatland, WY. When he was in Colorado facilities, the distance was much greater.
April 13, 2007. The Defense filed a Motion to Dismiss on the basis ”that the The United States, through its own agent’s affidavit, acknowledged the importance of maintaining the entire system for proper analysis. If proper analysis is important for prosecution, the exculpatory value is patent. The United States realized the evidentiary value of preserving the entire system, but, for some unknown reason, did not preserve the entire system. The evidence was not maintained. Failure to maintain the entire system destroyed much of the evidentiary value of what was seized. The digital images constitute the core of the Government’s case. Defendant is denied the ability to defend himself properly by inability to have the entire system analyzed.”
The Defense at this time had employed two Casper computer experts. Robert Reilly concluded in an Affidavit filed with the motion on April 13, 2007 among other things, “in my opinion, it is impossible to tell, with only the hard drive, what was actually viewable on Ned’s computer when it was seized. The presence of data viewable on another system does not mean it was viewable on Ned’s system.” He also attached eleven pages of virus and worm activity found on Ned’s computer. “There were listed warnings of numerous viruses, some of which allowed non-local users (not Ned, someone from a remote location) complete control of user’s (Ned’s) computer.”
Gregory J. Coffey, the second computer expert made the trip to Cheyenne (185 miles one way) on March 23, 2007 to view the evidence. He reports “I have the following concerns, amongst others, with regard to the evidence viewed:
“The computer evidence at the ICAC office consisted of what I understand to be an image of the hard drive, without the remainder of original system hardware. Without the entire system the hard drive was a part of, it is impossible to perform a fully comprehensive scan to check for viruses, spyware or other possible intrusions. With what I saw on March 23, I believe I can run a scan on the “flat files,’ and that has some value, but it would be of much more value to be able to actually boot off the entire system. (At the time I went to the ICAC offices in Cheyenne, I did not have access to scan anything on the drive. The “flat files” were not accessible on the day I went there. The personnel there indicated a continued attempt would be made to make the flat files accessible.) Booting off the entire system would have enabled a person to scan not only the flat files but also boot sectors and the programs running resident in memory. Another important area to scan would be the system registry. With what is available, I do not think it is possible to view whether there are any issues with drivers, system updates and what software is loading automatically. Further, without the entire system, I can’t tell whether proper and working versions of software exist to view the files in question.”
The Prosecutor, James Anderson, had no respect for the Defense argument that the entire computer system needed to be seized. He had no respect for the computer experts hired by the Defense. In the GOVERNENT’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS filed April 27, 2007, Anderson states: “While the Defendant has appended the declarations of two individuals who claim that evidence has been destroyed by the ICAC agents it does not appear that either of these declarants possess a background in the forensic examination of computer evidence. Further, their declarations simply demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the forensic process and the requirements imposed upon a forensic computer examiner to maintain the integrity of seized evidence.”
May 30, 2007. Motion to Dismiss Hearing. Frank Chapman and his assistant, Tom Smith, arrived at the hearing carrying the remaining components of Ned’s computer. These components had been clearly listed on the search warrant as items to be seized and placed into evidence. Agent Balliett was aware they were needed. She prepared the Application and swore in an Affidavit for Search Warrant as follows:
“Affiant (Balliett) knows from training and experience that in order to fully retrieve data from a computer system, the analyst needs all magnetic storage devices as well as the computer. In cases like this one where the evidence consists partly of graphic files, the input and output devices to include but not limited to keyboards, mice, scanners, printers, monitors, network communication devices, modems and external and connected devices used for accessing computer storage media and the storage media are also essential to show the nature and quality of the graphic images which the system could produce. In addition, the analyst needs all the system software (operating systems or interfaces, and hardware drivers) and any applications software which may be used to create the data (whether stored on hard drives or on external media) as well as documentation, items containing or displaying passwords, access codes, usernames or other identifiers necessary to examine or operate items, software or information seized or to activate specific equipment or software.”
The search warrant clearly follows the Department of Justice guidelines on Page 12: “Remember the computer and all of its contents constitute evidence.”
The Agents had left the evidence at Ned’s home eight months and 10 days before this hearing to dismiss. Therefore, the components were no longer of value to the Prosecution. There was no “chain of custody.” Conversely, they were no longer of any value to the Defense.
Again, among those now-useless components was the Router that could have held the key to the source of the information on Ned’s computer.
The Judge’s Order on this matter says: “Defendant urges the Court to dismiss the indictment . . . because the Government improperly destroyed evidence, denying him due process. The Court finds, however, that the Defendant’s argument is unpersuasive. The Court is not persuaded because the Defendant fails to point to any evidence that the Government destroyed.”
The Defense argument was that they Government did not seize the EVIDENCE – hence, its usefulness to the Defendant was destroyed.
The Motion to Dismiss was Denied.
OCTOBER 2, 2007 - The trial was scheduled for October 2. When we arrived at the Federal Building for the start of the trial, Tom Smith, Chapman’s assistant, met us at the door looking very distraught. We were taken to the holding room where we could talk with Ned who was behind the glass. He was in complete meltdown. Mr. Chapman had just told him that the computer experts had run into something the day before that they could not explain. It appeared that someone had saved something to a CD on the night in question. Therefore, they could not defend what they could not explain. Mr. Chapman said the Prosecution had offered a plea agreement. Ned had fifteen minutes to accept it. There were ten minutes remaining when the family arrived. The “deal” was —plead guilty to the charges. Then instead of 12 years in prison with a designation of sex offender for life, he would “only” be given 6 years in prison with a designation of sex offender for life. Chapman told us it would be at minimum of an additional $25,000 to hire a top-notch forensic expert – plus additional legal fees and costs. Time was running. Now the entire family was in meltdown. Chapman knew my funds were gone. Natalie offered to cash in her retirement. Tim offered to borrow the money. Ned told us NO! It had cost far too much already. The family begged him to not plead guilty!!!!! Chapman said he had only a 1% chance to be found not guilty. The ten minutes were up.
This day was one of the worst days of my life. I believe the rest of the family felt the same. Nothing made any sense! Mr. Chapman in those ten minutes simply dropped us off a cliff – and expected us to be grateful that he was “saving” Ned six years in prison. It is difficult for an innocent man and his family to fully appreciate the gift of six years in prison and designated sex offender status for life. As Ned was lead away, we were all crying and begging: “Don’t do this, Ned!” He was in shock.
When we got into the courtroom, the Judge asked him three questions:
- Do you own a Maxtor Hard Drive, Serial No Y35609QE?
Ned looked at Chapman. He shook his head, yes.
Ned replied, “Yes.”
- The Judge then read a list of obscene titles and asked, were these items on your computer?
Ned looked at Chapman. He shook his head, yes.
Ned replied, “Yes.”
The Judge asked, “Did you download this information?”
Ned had his head down, trying to get himself together, and he quietly replied, “No.”
The family clearly heard the reply. Apparently the Prosecutor, Mr. Chapman and the Judge had quit listening. The Judge “accepted” the plea agreement, and Ned was scheduled for sentencing on January 3, 2008. The Judge advised that he wished to receive letters about Ned. He wanted to know him “inside and out” before sentencing. The potential jurors who had gathered for the trial were dismissed. Mr. Chapman told me to not bother with the letters. They do no good. Hence, I requested that the people desiring to send letters send them DIRECTLY to the Judge, not to Mr. Chapman, to be sure the Judge received them.
October 3, 2007 – January 3, 2008
Amid this emotional turmoil, Natalie, Andy (my Golden Retriever) and I left Cheyenne for Casper. The “plea agreement” had been accepted. How could that happen when the Defendant said, “NO?” It was time to accept reality—even though we couldn’t comprehend it. Ned’s home and his cat, Bubba, had been surviving in Casper during his long absence because of the kindness of his good neighbors. It was time to vacate his home.
Andy and I spent the month of October in Casper. With the help of Natalie and Ned’s best friends, the Virgilios, we packed and clean out Ned’s home. Virgilios stored his belongings in their garage. At the end of October, when the job was completed, I listed the house (where I once lived, and that Ned and I both loved). Natalie accompanied me and we headed back to Ohio with Andy AND Bubba, the cat. The house is now sold.
These were very dark days. Ned had now given up. He had “confessed” to something unspeakable that he did not do.
January 2008 through March 2008
There have been many trips to Cheyenne these last two years. The next trip was to attend the “sentencing” on January 3, 2008. The Prosecutor came alone without his usual entourage. Mr. Chapman, Ned’s attorney, did not bother to show. After all, it was routine. My funds had run out. Ned was simply to be dispatched to his new federal prison home. Chapman sent Tom Smith, his assistant. This family has the utmost respect for Tom. He was a welcome sight.
What happened next was a complete surprise! I still am not sure exactly how it unfolded. The Judge told Ned he was going to give him an opportunity to consider his “guilty” plea and withdraw it. Ned told him that he had no further means to continue the matter.
The Judge then advised he was appointing a Public Defender. Those two words do not light a fire under this family. Ned had already tried one. Ned showed hesitation when it was mentioned. The Judge then appointed Tom Smith as the Public Defender! Ned thanked him, but told him that he did not know what happened on his computer. He needed a forensic expert. He did not have the funds to hire one. The Judge authorized Mr. Smith to hire one!
So we left that “sentencing hearing” dazed. Again, we didn’t know what happened. Tom Smith was stunned! The Prosecutor was upset and speechless. There was again HOPE!
The “Plea Agreement” was still on the record – pending further events. Time passes as they arrange for the forensic computer expert.
The Judge agreed to hire Tami Loehrs of LAW2000, INC in Tucson, AZ. She came to Cheyenne on March 12, 2008 and spent several days at ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) headquarters examining Ned’s hard drive. Ned did not meet her.
When she sent her Preliminary Report on Ned’s computer, he was so encouraged when he read it. His attitude of hopelessness disappeared.
Ms Loehrs’ conclusions were:
“I did not find any still images containing suspect child pornography in allocated or unallocated space on Item 400 (the hard drive).
“I did not find any multimedia files containing suspect child pornography in allocated space.
“I did not find any user-defined files or folders in allocated space indicative accessing, viewing or saving child pornography.
“I did not find any emails, chat logs, Instant messages or other communications in allocated or unallocated space regarding pornography, children or otherwise.
“I found five video files on Item 400 in unallocated space that contain suspect child pornography. All five files were created on 9/20/2006 between 9:18 pm and 10:10 p.m. in the incomplete folder created by Limewire. Based on their location in the incomplete folder, the download of these files was either cancelled by the user or failed to download in their entirety for some other reason. All five files were deleted on 9/20/06 at 10:10 p.m., shortly after their failure to download. Although each of the five files have corresponding preview files, there is no evidence that any of the previews actually played and therefore, no evidence that the content was ever viewed.
“There is no conclusive evidence that any of the five files containing suspect child pornography were ever viewed, saved or copied to another location including storage media such as CD-ROMs. In fact, I found no evidence that any pornography was ever burned to CD-ROMs. Additionally, it does not meet the common sense approach that a user would burn an incomplete file to a CD-Rom since incomplete files play only a portion of the intended content or none at all.
“With respect to the file specifically listed in the Indictment, the download of this file was canceled 37 seconds into the download process. The preview of this file was never played because the created and last written times were identical. Additionally, I was unable to play the preview file during my exam. There is no evidence that this file was ever viewed, saved, copied or otherwise knowingly possessed prior to the file being deleted.
“There is no evidence that four of the files SA Waters claims were available at IP address 126.96.36.199 ever existed on Item 400. The remaining file names appear in unallocated space but there is no evidence to determine when the files were created, when they were deleted or if they were ever viewed.
“There is conclusive evidence that individuals other than Ned Solon used the computer including, but not limited to, Kim, Phoebe, Jessie, Savannah and Kody. In fact, Savannah was using Ned Solon’s email address to email many different individuals and the only evidence that it was not Ned Solon sending the email is when Savannah specifically stated in the email that it was her at the keyboard.
“There is conclusive evidence that Item 400 was compromised with Trojans that have the ability to allow unauthorized access to the system by outside sources. However, at this point in my forensics exam, I have been unable to determine to what extent these Trojans compromised the system, if any.”
With the above Examination Report, Ned finally had hope that a jury might believe him. More importantly, he was determined to withdraw his “plea agreement” and not admit to something he did not do.
April 2008 to November 2, 2008
The Hearing to Withdraw Plea was scheduled April 9. It was important to me to be there since Ned was taking a huge risk. If a jury finds him guilty, he could face 12 years in prison, not 6. The hearing to withdraw the “plea” was postponed while I was in mid-air between Akron-Canton and Denver. So, Tim and I then spent the next day traveling the 160 miles one way to visit Ned at the jail in Colorado. We shared the twenty-minute visit with him.
April 17, 2008. Financial considerations prevented me from attending the rescheduled meeting. Tim reports that again, the Judge was very cautious in allowing Ned to withdraw the plea. He explained that Ned would face 12 years in prison, if convicted. Ned told him to “Proceed.” No action was taken on this matter.
However, the Judge had other concerns at this hearing. Ned had now been in jail for fifteen months and had not been granted a bond hearing. All defendants are entitled to a hearing. No action was taken on a bond hearing at this time.
One more concern – the Judge expressed his displeasure with Ms. Loehrs’ bill for the forensic exam. He wanted her to come to Cheyenne at her expense and explain her report and justify her charges. Her charge is $250/hr. The Judge had approved sufficient funds to pay the bill. However, he was not pleased about it at this hearing. He wanted it justified. All matters pending at the beginning of the April 17 hearing were still pending at the end of the hearing.
APRIL 24, 2008 – Bond hearing obligation fulfilled. Ned’s employer sent word that Ned’s job would be waiting for him if released on bond. The decision of the Magistrate was: “I find that the credible testimony and information submitted at the hearing establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is a danger to the community.” Bond Denied.
JULY 29, 2008 - Defendant filed Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2008 – ORDER RULING ON OUTSTANDING MOTIONS;
DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA is GRANTED. Defendant’ guilty plea is withdrawn and a plea of not guilty has been entered.
DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS is DENIED.
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR ORDER SETTING TRIAL - Judge ORDERS trial set for Monday, November 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm.
GOVERNMENT’S MOTION IN LIMINE – CHARACTER EVIDENCE – Judge DENIES Motion at this point in time. The Government, however, may renew Motion at a later time.
DEFENDANT’S MOTION IN LIMINE TO PRECLUDE GOVERNMENT FROM SHOWING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY TO JURY asserts that showing child pornography would be extremely prejudicial to the defense. The mere existence of the files on the Defendant’s hard drive does not constitute knowing possession. Motion DENIED.
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION OF COURT’S ORDER REGARDING EXPERT and EX PARTE NOTICE TO THE COURT REGARDING SPECIFIC COST ESTIMATE FOR EXPERT SERVICES - The Court FINDS and ORDERS:
September 25, 2008 – The Prosecution welcomed the withdrawal of the plea agreement. Mr. Anderson now had the opportunity to file “new and improved” charges against Ned. At his request the Grand Jury issued a SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT filed on September 25. The penalties under the new Indictment were greatly increased. Since the Defendant had been perpetually incarcerated since the first Indictment was obtained, it would appear that the new, increased penalties were punitive in nature. The penalties were now:
- Defendant’s expert, Tammy Loehrs, will sign and swear to an affidavit itemizing expenses incurred on behalf of the Defendant prior to this Court’s order requiring pre-authorization of expert expenses. Subsequent to receiving this affidavit, this Court will scrutinize and approve reasonable expenses incurred.
- This Court will authorize the four hours that Defense Counsel has stated is necessary for pretrial preparation at Loehrs’s current rate.
- This Court also authorizes payment for the time that Loehrs spends testifying in Court at her current rate.
- This Court authorizes the payment of travel expenses incurred as a result of Loehrs traveling to Wyoming to testify.
- This Court will not authorize the payment of Loehrs’s travel time at her current rate. This Court will, however, take under advisement the authorization of payment of travel time in the event that Loehrs agrees to reduce her current rate for travel time.
- This Court will not authorize the payment of Loehrs to sit with the Defendant throughout trial and give advice at her current rate. This Court will, however, take under advisement the authorization of this payment in the event that Loehrs agrees to reduce her current rate for assistance to the Defendant during trial.
- Count I - Possession
Not more than 10 years imprisonment
Not less than 5 years or more than a Term of Life Supervised Release
$100 Special Assessment
- Count 2 – Receipt
Not less than 5 years or More than 20 Years Imprisonment
Not Less Than 5 Years or More than a Term of Life
$100 Special Assessment
OCTOBER 1, 2008 – The Prosecution requested that Bond be denied on the new charges for the following reasons: Crime of Violence, Serious risk defendant will flee, Serious risk obstruction of justice, Safety of any other person and the community. Bond Denied.
OCTOBER 14, 2008 – Tami Loehrs filed a DECLARATION of her expenses. On this date the Judge ORDERED her bill for March 17 through March 24, 2008 be paid.
It was further ORDERED that her work to advise defense counsel during trial be approved at $150/hr. Additionally, for after-trial court hours for consultation that may be necessary and reasonable, an additional four (4) hours in addition to trial time is authorized if such time is necessary. Ms Loehrs is not authorized to bill for travel time.
NOVEMBER 3-10, 2008
The jury was seated on November 3, 2008. They were a fine-looking bunch – young to middle-aged. All were gainfully employed and many had college educations. None admitted to being a computer expert. None considered themselves competent to give computer help to others. Many did use a computer in their work. All they needed was reasonable doubt. Tami Loehrs had abundant reasonable doubt to present.
It appeared to be the Prosecution’s game plan to spend considerable time explaining detailed information about computers. It unnecessarily bored the jury. The issue was not WHAT was on the hard drive. The dispute was HOW it got there and how it COULD BE VIEWED on Ned’s computer.
The Guidelines state: “Photograph the front and back of the system before you physically move it to identify how it is set up. For purposes of analysis and courtroom presentation, a computer specialist can use the photographs to put the system back together exactly as the suspect used it.” Pg 14
The Agents had not seized Ned’s computer. Therefore, it was not available for use in their “courtroom presentation.”
The Prosecution then proceeded to play “evidence” from ICAC’s vast library of Child Pornography on the Prosecution’s equipment for the Jury. They claimed it was viewable on Ned’s computer. In short, in lieu of evidence, they played their pictures on their equipment. The jury was completely repulsed by the images. They never listened to a thing after the pictures!
It was Thursday afternoon when the Defense took the stand. Tami Loehrs was an outstanding expert and an outstanding witness. Mr. Anderson found it necessary to try to demean her credentials and education. She calmly proceeded to blow the prosecution away with her knowledge. She clarified some of the computer “knowledge” the Prosecution tried to present, but had to admit they did not know how it worked. Finally, Mr. Anderson brought in a “new employee” during her testimony. He was introduced as, I believe, Todd Coleman, who possessed advanced degrees in computer science. He was to be a witness.
Ms Loehrs testified the computer had many problems. The Trojans with backdoor access opened Ned’s computer to outside access. It was possible that the computer could be operated while Ned was at the computer and he might not know it. The Jury never heard a word. The Jury apparently also failed to notice that Mr. Coleman, the witness who was brought in especially to rebut Ms. Loehrs’ testimony, never took the stand nor opened his mouth.
Cyndy took notes throughout the trial. In her letter to the Judge prior to sentencing, she uses the prosecution’s own witnesses to present Reasonable Doubt. Her letter is attached at this point and made a part of My Book.
Cyndy Solon Pryor’s Letter to the Judge dated January 10, 2009:
Dear Judge Brimmer: My name is Cyndy Solon Pryor. I am Ned’s sister. I wrote you over a year ago when you were about to sentence Ned and now I am writing you again. First, I want to thank you for giving Ned the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea and for making sure he had a great attorney and a very competent computer expert. For that this family will always be grateful.
I don’t even know where to begin. Or maybe I do know where to begin. Ned is innocent. I know families say that all the time, but in this case, it is true. The Solons are not a delusional family and there are many innocent men whose lives are being wasted away in prisons across this country.
But now isn’t the time to argue his guilt or innocence. That time has passed and now you must hand out judgment. I will try to put myself in the shoes of someone who believes Ned is guilty and think about what I would consider to be fair punishment for such a crime.
I think the severity of a crime should be taken into consideration during sentencing. In Ned’s case, the only evidence found was trace evidence that child pornography had existed on the hard drive at one time. And as far as that trace evidence, the prosecution’s own computer expert, Special Agent Huff, testified Thursday, November 6, 2008, between 10:35 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. that even the trace evidence was not pornographic.
Since Ned’s arrest I’ve done a lot of research on the behavior of child predators and Ned doesn’t fit the profile. Even the prosecution’s expert, Special Agent Huff, testified to several of these behaviors and then testified that no evidence of those behaviors was found in Ned’s case.
My notes indicate that on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, between 4:25 p.m. and 5:05 p.m. Special Agent Huff testified that it is fairly common for child predators to engage in communication through chat rooms and other types of interaction, such as e-mail and instant messaging. He also testified it is fairly common for them to save files – lots of files. None of this evidence was found on Ned’s computer or anywhere in his home.
Since the prosecution’s own expert testified this behavior is fairly common in these type of cases, and then testified that no evidence exists attributing that type of behavior to Ned, it is only fair that Ned’s sentence be far less severe than a person who has amassed the typical evidence found in these cases.
I also think the guilty party’s potential contribution to society should be taken into consideration. There are those people who refuse to work and are generally a drain on society and then there are those people who work hard and are an asset to society because of their contributions through the taxes they pay and the businesses they patronize. Past history shows Ned has always had a job. Once he is released from prison, he will most likely have a job within a week. He has a reputation for being an excellent worker.
It should also be taken into consideration that when Ned was released from prison in 2004 he immediately got a job. He stayed away from illegal drugs (which got him into trouble in the first place) and was clean right up until the day he was arrested.
During that same time Ned was buying a home. Granted he was buying it from our mother, but legal documents were drawn up and he was paying a monthly mortgage. The home was initially Ned’s before he went to prison in 2001. My mother took it over while Ned was in prison and did extensive remodeling. She sold the home back to Ned and from then on he was faithfully paying the mortgage, taxes and insurance.
No matter how long Ned remains in prison for this crime, once he is released he will be supervised the rest of his life. It makes no sense for him to not be a contributing member of society, sooner rather than later, when restrictions can (and will) be put in place that prevent him from owning or having access to computers and that will also prevent him from being alone with children.
Another important factor I think should be taken into consideration when handing down fair punishment would be the motivation behind the crime. On Thursday, November 6, 2008, sometime between 11:25 a.m. and 11:55 a.m. Special Agent Huff testified they do find illegal evidence during the majority of the searches for this type of material. However, he also testified there have been several cases where they have found no illegal evidence at all during the initial search, which is true in Ned’s situation.
Mr. Smith furthered questioned Special Agent Huff by asking him if in those cases where no illegal activity is initially found, did further investigation usually point to stronger evidence than what was found in Ned’s case?
Agent Huff responded it has happened both ways. If there is a small amount of evidence later found, then the downloading of illegal material was accidental. If there are large amounts of evidence found, then usually the reason investigators aren’t able to see it initially is because the files are hidden in Window system files and/or are encrypted.
Special Agent Huff offered only these two explanations for finding no illegal activity during an initial search. It was either/or. Putting myself in the shoes of an outside observer who believes Ned is guilty, my question would be, “which category does Ned fit into?” I do not have the transcript of Ned’s trial, but my notes clearly state that Special Agent Huff’s words were to the effect, “If there is a small amount of evidence, then the downloading was accidental.”
The facts in Ned’s case show there was a small amount of evidence on his computer and that that small amount of evidence (or trace evidence as it was labeled by prosecution experts during testimony) which was found had not been hidden or encrypted.
Taking Special Agent Huff’s testimony into consideration along with the facts surrounding Ned’s situation, a person would have no choice but to deduce the files were accidentally downloaded to Ned’s computer, which obviously doesn’t show much motivation on Ned’s part. That fact alone should have given the jury reasonable doubt, but since it didn’t, I think it only fair that it be taken into consideration during sentencing.
There is another matter I respectfully ask you to take into consideration when sentencing Ned. I do not understand the prosecution’s request to have Ned incarcerated for 15 to 20 years. Is that justice or revenge? I watch and read news across the country on a daily basis. I consistently read about men who have done far worse than what Ned is convicted of, and I’ve also read a lot of news stories about men who have a whole lot more evidence against them for the same crime for which Ned has been convicted. In either case the sentences they receive are nowhere near 15 to 20 years.
In fact, most of the sentences I read or hear about are less than the six years the prosecution first offered in a plea deal. It doesn’t make any sense to me why the prosecution would request 15 to 20 years when they themselves offered six years at one time. Obviously they didn’t think Ned was that much of a danger to society then. What has changed? Ned’s been in jail for two years. He hasn’t committed any more crimes since they offered him the deal of six years.
Which brings up another point: Why, after Ned was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, were more charges filed against him? If the prosecution felt he was guilty of more crimes, why didn’t they file the charges to begin with? Why on earth would they wait two years? It appears to me more charges were filed out of spite. I’m trying very hard to look at this as an objective observer who believes Ned is guilty, but even then I don’t think revenge and spite should be considered in seeking or handing out justice.
I don’t wish to “bad-mouth” Mr. Anderson. I actually admire Mr. Anderson. We need passionate people like Mr. Anderson working for justice. He’s very good at what he does. Before this ordeal my thoughts were that prosecutors and law enforcement needed to do whatever needed to be done to get the scum who are hurting our children off the streets. If innocent men were caught up in the pursuit of the guilty, then that, of course, is very unfortunate.
But now the innocent man caught up in this pursuit is a man I would give my life for. It is no longer “unfortunate.” It is devastating. I’ve been able to mentally deal with Mr. Anderson’s tactics by giving him the benefit of the doubt that he truly believes Ned is guilty. And if he truly believes in someone’s guilt, then he should go after that person with gusto. Which is exactly what he did in Ned’s case. And he won! So why pile on more charges and more punishment? That I don’t understand.
To summarize my thoughts on fair justice, I believe all of the above should be taken into consideration:
- The severity of the crime and the evidence against the guilty party (in Ned’s case hardly any evidence at all);
- The guilty party’s potential contribution to society and the likelihood and opportunity a guilty person would have to commit the crime again (in Ned’s case he would be a working, tax-paying citizen and he would be supervised to prevent further offenses);
- The motivation behind the crime, (in Ned’s case the prosecution’s own expert witness testified that small amounts of evidence in these type of cases means the material was accidentally downloaded); and
- The motivation behind the prosecution’s pursuit and request for additional punishment (in Ned’s case, is that really justice?).
You are a busy man and I truly appreciate the time you are taking to read my letter, but since this is a very important matter to my family and me I respectfully request just a little bit more of your time to bring up other matters we consider important. I appreciate your patience with me.
I would like the evidence in Ned’s case to be preserved. Not only the hard drive confiscated by law enforcement, but also the other computer components that were voluntarily turned over by the defense team.
This family wants Ned exonerated one way or another. It would be nice to have that happen sooner rather than later, but if we have to, we will work on this for decades if that is what it takes. Our main goal is not to free Ned from prison, although it would be wonderful to have that happen before he has to serve out his sentence. Our main goal is to clear his name.
Even if Ned were to tragically die before we find out what happened on his computer, we would continue to work to clear his name. This family will be working on this until Ned is exonerated or we are all dead and buried. Everyone who truly knows Ned knows he is innocent of these charges. Therefore, there is an explanation for how this happened. We just need to find it.
Both Special Agent Huff and Ned’s computer expert, Ms. Loehrs, testified it could take thousands and thousands of hours to find the truth. We will have to figure out how to get those thousands and thousands of hours, but when we do figure it out, we will need all the computer components.
If I have to do it myself, I’ll do it myself. I live in Eugene, Oregon where the University of Oregon is located. I’ve already checked into their graduate programs and they offer a Masters Degree in Information and Computer Sciences. I currently hold a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Finance and Accounting, but I have four decades of in-depth computer experience under my belt, which will be a tremendous asset to me in this endeavor.
Which brings up another important point – the jury didn’t understand computers. Even the computer experts on both sides admitted no knowledge in several instances that arose in Ned’s case. In the same way that DNA was a new field of science a decade or two ago, comprehending evidence related to computer crimes is a new, evolving, field that hasn’t yet been fully developed, especially when it comes to the defense side of the equation. If computer experts aren’t clear about how certain things happen, then how on earth is a jury to understand the complexities of a particular case?
DNA is now freeing innocent men who have been locked up for decades. I’m confident that sometime in the future some type of computer “DNA” will be developed that will allow us to quickly determine what has happened with a particular computer. When that happens, we want Ned’s entire computer system to have been preserved and available.
As far as the jury not being able to understand the complexities of this case, it was my hope they could at least understand enough to comprehend the large amount of reasonable doubt that was presented to them by the prosecution’s ownexperts, which included:
Ned’s own computer expert, Tami Loehrs, presented a lot more reasonable doubt, which I won’t bother to include here since it has been insinuated by the prosecution she is an advocate for child predators and will say whatever she is paid to say. But I would like to point out it was established during testimony that Ms. Loehrs is much more qualified than the prosecution’s computer expert. I would also like to clarify she is an advocate -- for the truth. And if you think about it, her testimony shouldn’t have been needed at all considering the large amount of reasonable doubt presented by the prosecution.
On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Special Agent Huff testified it is possible Ned knew nothing about the files on his computer.
On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Special Agent Huff testified he could tell illegal activity took place by looking at the link files. He also testified the link files only occurred at the exact same times law enforcement just happened to be looking at Ned’s computer. During the long time periods that occurred between law enforcement looking, there was no link file activity.
On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Special Agent Huff testified that another person looking at the same evidence could come to a different conclusion.
On Thursday, November 6, 2008, Special Agent Huff testified there was no indication anyone had ever viewed the images shown in court.
On Thursday, November 6, 2008, Special Agent Huff testified that if small amounts of illegal files were later found on a computer, then the conclusion is that the files were accidentally downloaded.
On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, Special Agent Balliett testified the IP Address being used by Ned’s computer when they saw illegal activity being offered, came up again in a separate investigation. Again that IP Address was offering to distribute child pornography. But this time Ned’s computer wasn’t using the IP Address; a computer in Rawlins was using it. I still wonder to this day what happened with the computer in Rawlins. Was that investigated? It raises the question, “Could it be someone was using a particular IP Address to distribute child pornography rather than a particular computer (such as Ned’s)?
Special Agent Huff testified there were 46 files indicative of child pornography downloaded and deleted the evening of September 20, 2006. He also testified that when a file is deleted it is not removed from the computer until it is overwritten. Yet remnants of only eight (8) files were recovered the next day. Since the computer had not been used in between the time illegal activity took place and the time the computer was seized, all 46 files should have been present on Ned’s computer. Neither computer expert could explain why the files were not there or how they could possibly disappear.
The default port on Ned’s Limewire program had been changed. Neither computer expert on either side could explain the meaning of “Forced” port, which is the term that appeared on Ned’s Limewire settings.
The computer experts on both sides testified there were Trojan viruses present on Ned’s computer, which could easily allow unauthorized remote access to Ned’s computer.
I am not blaming the jury. When they were being seated they were all asked if they would be the type of person to ask for computer help or would they be the type of person who would give computer help. Each and every one responded they would be the type of person to ask for computer help.
If I were asked that question my response would be, “I am the type of person to give computer help.” Not only am I that type of person, but that is exactly what I do. I continuously help people with both hardware and software problems. Perhaps that is why I am able to see all the reasonable doubt, while the jury could not.
I’ve said what I had to say. I apologize for being so long-winded. In the end, my simple request is that Ned be sentenced (and jailed) the least amount of time possible and that the evidence all be preserved. I truly appreciate your time and consideration.
Cyndy Solon Pryor
Agent Randy Huff not only was the agent in charge of the computer at Ned’s home, he was also the Forensic Computer Expert who conducted the “complete examination” of the hard drive for the Prosecution. The Guidelines say, “Full examination of the computer’s entire hard drive and all other storage media is absolutely necessary. Both text files and graphics files are important evidence in a child sexual exploitation investigation. The forensic examiner analyzes the computer and its contents, but the best people to determine what is or is not appropriate evidence in a particular investigation are the primary child sexual exploitation investigator and the prosecutor.” Pg 15 The “full examination” by the prosecution in this case was non-existent. It looked only for the names of the offensive files to be used in the charges. There was no check for Trojans or malware, emails or ANYTHING else in the computer. The Prosecutor did not request a report of the “full examination of the computer’s entire hard drive and all other storage media.” Tami Loehrs presented the only “full examination” of the hard drive. The prosecution only became aware of the Trojans after Tami Loehrs found them. The Prosecutor did not concern himself with whether the Agents had seized the “computer evidence.” At the trial, Agent Huff admitted that on the day Ned’s hard drive was seized, he was temporarily serving in the job. He has had training in this area. He was not, however, a Forensic Computer Expert. He is no longer serving in this capacity.
Tom Smith did ask Agent Huff about the strange anomaly that the only time illegal activity happened on Ned’s computer was the exact time Flint Waters was looking. Of particular interest is the date, September 20, 2006, used in the Grand Jury’s Superseding Indictment, which is the basis for the charges against Ned. The search warrant was obtained on SEPTEMBER 18, 2006, two days before the offense occurred. Agent Huff could not explain that. Tom opined that Ned must be the “unluckiest man in the world” for this to happen? I believe Mr. Anderson objected to that comment.
Agent Balliett had no difficulty defending her failure to take the entire computer system as outlined on the search warrant and as clearly stated in the Department of Justice Guidelines. She stated it “wasn’t necessary” to take all the components of the computer. They did not need it. She did, however, file a sworn affidavit that said she knew from her “training and experience” the importance of obtaining the complete computer system. Her testimony indicated that she believed the wording in the warrant was simply a “formality” and words without substance.
Ned testified that he had NOT downloaded the material, had never seen the material and did not know it was there.
By the time the defense finished, it was the weekend. The jury was really tired of this mess. They were dismissed for the weekend. Closing Arguments were presented on Monday, November 10. The Judge had arranged for the jury to have lunch at the Olive Garden. In the afternoon they had jury instructions. It was 3:15 pm when the matter was sent to the jury. November 11 was a holiday. Everyone just wanted to get out of there. When he excused the Jury for deliberations, the Judge said, “I should see you back here in a couple hours.” By 5:15 pm they complied. They were back with “Guilty on both counts” – which allowed them to get out the doors before they were locked for the holiday.
I had faith that this jury would have at least one person who would look at the evidence. It had none.
The STAR TRIBUNE announced:
“A federal jury in Cheyenne convicted Nathaniel Solon, of Casper, of possession and receipt of child pornography earlier this week. Solon's sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, and fines up to $500,000.”
Sentencing was scheduled for January 21, 2009. Ned was returned to jail in Wheatland, WY and the Solon family scattered to return to their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and await the sentencing hearing.
The Presentencing Report suggested that the sentence should be twenty years. They even tacked on an extra five years for Obstruction of Justice. The Obstruction occurred when Ned took the stand and said he was “Not Guilty.” The reasoning – The jury found him guilty. He testified under oath that he was not guilty. Therefore, he lied – that is obstruction of Justice.
Again, letters were again sent. It was now up to the Judge.
JANUARY 21, 2009
On this date, we all gathered again in that same, all-too-familiar place. It was a milestone of sorts. Ned had just marked the end of his second year in jail. And it was Lloyd’s 50th birthday. Lloyd was the only one unable to attend. He had his ticket for the trial. The day after he purchased it, he was hired at Walgreen’s. Hence, he was fulfilling his obligation at the new job.
By this time we were completely numb from the events of the last two years. The Prosecution had made it perfectly clear; it wished to have a twenty-year sentence.
The seating arrangement gave the appearance of a very sad wedding. The Prosecutor accompanied only by an intern from his office sat on the left side of the courtroom, facing the Judge.
Tom Smith sat with Ned on the right side, facing the Judge. Tom Fitzgerald, the Federal Probation Officer, also sat on the right side nearer the Judge. He had prepared the report with the sentencing guidelines for the Judge. The report listed Ned at a Level 32, the number that indicated the level of suggested punishment. I do not understand these things, but the bottom line was twenty years in prison, sex offender for life.
The “guests” sat again, like at a wedding. Special Agent Nicole Balliett, the arresting officer, sat in the gallery on the Prosecution side. There was an unidentified woman already seated there when Balliett arrived. They appeared to know one another.
Natalie Hansen, Cyndy Pryor, Tim Solon, Bette Brown and Jeff Pullins (Red), Ned’s long-time friend, sat in the gallery on Ned’s side.
The time had now come. The Jury had found Ned Guilty. The Judge had to sentence him.
The young intern for the Prosecutor made the Opening Statement. She outlined the timeline of the events in the matter with the penalties for the charges. She explained how the points were calculated. She also argued for the additional penalty for “obstruction of justice” because Ned lied under oath when he testified at trial that he was “Not Guilty.”
Tom Smith, Ned’s attorney, presented his first objection to the fact the prosecution was calling this a “crime of violence.” I am using the notes Cyndy took at sentencing here. This was a very confusing time. The Judge replied that Ned is not violent – not a safety risk. The Prisons should not consider a tougher place for him – not needed. That was certainly welcome news.
Tom’s second objection was the Obstruction of Justice charge. Tom argued that the System in not infallible. There was not enough evidence to show Ned was lying. The Jury’s verdict was not an indication of perjury. The Judge said the Obstruction of Justice is “iffy” – not sure it is clear-cut. The Court should give Ned the benefit of the doubt (Cyndy’s notes say – YEA!!)
Tom’s next objection was to the Prosecution’s request for an increased sentence outside the sentencing guidelines. That was based, in part, because Ned would not accept responsibility for “his deeds.” The Judge did note that there was a substantial difference between the Plea Agreement the Prosecution offered Ned in October 2007 – which was 72 months – and the new charges and the new penalty requested - a minimum of 188 months. Ned had been incarcerated the entire time. His situation had not changed. The only change had been the Prosecution had increased the charges. Tom argued it was GROSSLY UNFAIR to charge Ned more and punish him more than the 10-year maximum on the initial charges. He will not accept responsibility because he is innocent.
The Judge explained he had spent a very long time reading the letters sent to him in this case. In the interest of Justice the pre-sentence report recommendations were too high. He began deducting points.
Anderson could see he was losing ground; so be became magnanimous. He suddenly sided with the Defense and argued for 121-151 months. He stated he agreed with this lesser time, but for a different reason than the Defense. He stated the Defendant was a “Looker” not a “Keeper.” He wasn’t a “Collector” or a “Trader.” And, the amounts of images were a very small number.
To this the Judge replied, “I don’t feel that it was a small number – 6 videos containing 450 images is an awful lot.” Anderson replied: “Other cases have a whole lot more—120,000 when stopped counting.” (Cyndy’s notes: Anderson arguing for Ned; go figure?) Judge still believes 450 is a lot. So Anderson, tries to clarify it again: “It is a whole lot less than most cases.”
Anderson then continues that Ned had put everyone through the pain and expense by demanding a trial – he wants sentence in 121-151 range. He further comments on the Letters to the Judge. He believes the letters are delusional. The family loves Ned, but they don’t know Ned. They are wrong to believe this is a miscarriage of justice. The evidence was overwhelming. The letter writers need to look at the facts. “The Jury found him Guilty; enough said.”
The Judge then commended Tom Smith on the very, very able job he did for the defense. Anderson agreed—Smith did an admirable job.
The Judge began his consideration of the Level numbers. As he considered the matter we heard his thoughts in progress. It went like this: In the interest of justice, Ned didn’t trade – he looked and deleted – 188 months is unduly harsh – having image isn’t public threat – a drug sentence for possession is seldom more than 120 months – often 60-90 months. Equity demands less than 188 months. Tom thanks the Judge and Anderson.
The Judge called Ned forward and asked if he wished to speak. Ned said, “I am an innocent man.” Judge: “Anything else?” Ned: “No.”
Then he surprised the family and asked if we wished to speak. Although nobody was prepared, we all (including Red) spoke. When he got to me, he acknowledged for the record that I had been his secretary when he was Wyoming Attorney General, nearly forty years ago. He also acknowledged that he had attended Tim’s church. Tim moved to Cheyenne long after I moved from Cheyenne to Ohio. He told me our concerns about this situation should be raised in the Court of Appeals.
Tom told the Judge there was not much he could add. Anderson reported he had nothing further.
Then the judge told us he owes Solons an explanation as to why he sat on this case when I had been his secretary and Tim was his minister. It is his duty to sit. He felt he could be fair. That is why he was still sitting. This was not the first time he’s heard innocence—even after the Jury ruling. The evidence in this case was clear. The images were on the hard drive. That is a violation of the law. So he proceeded to review the points.
“The Court has a duty to determine what is just. This case is not a lot different than drug possession. That sentence is 72 months.” He then reviewed the terms. The fine will be $400. He will register as a sex offender when released. When he gets to prison, he will have a job and will then begin to pay on the fine. He strongly recommends the prison library so Ned will continue to improve his mind. There was another fine of $200 imposed. The Judge recommended the Bureau of Prisons send Ned to Englewood, Colorado, the prison closest to his father. It is a low security prison.
The Judge reminded Ned he had ten days to appeal.
There is a huge difference between 20 years and 72 months. The sentence was an unexpected surprise. For that, we are thankful. It definitely is NOT what the Mr. Anderson wanted! However, it is not what we wanted either.
Mr. Anderson told Tom that if Ned appealed, he would appeal the sentence.
Ned’s Notice of Appeal was filed February 5, 2009. The Prosecution has thirty working days from February 5 to appeal the sentence. Ned is still housed in Wheatland, WY. We are now waiting for the next shoe to drop.
If anyone has made it to this point, thank you for listening. It has been important to me to get the facts in order. This family loves Ned very much. He IS innocent.
Child porn found on 20,000 computers in Virginia
By Gregg MacDonald
Using a national online system that enables them to remotely download incriminating images directly from a suspect's computer, members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force have identified nearly 20,000 computer hard drives in Virginia that they say contain hardcore child pornography.
Virginia Del. Brian Moran (D-Alexandria) reported last week that the Town of Herndon ranked number four in overall Virginia localities behind only Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Richmond in the number of computers known to possess child pornography statewide.
Herndon, which has a population of 23,000, is reported to have more than 1,000 known computers containing images of hardcore child pornography. According to Virginia State Police, each electronic transaction of child pornography is considered a felony.
Jesse Ferguson, legislative aide for Moran, said that by using the nationwide software system, child pornography can easily be downloaded from the computer hard drives of individuals who utilize peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as Napster or Limewire.
Flint Waters, Special Agent for the Wyoming Attorney General Division of Criminal Investigation, developed the software system that identified the images on Virginia's computers.
On Oct. 3, 2007, Waters testified before Congress, explaining how the system works to identify individuals who have downloaded child pornography on their computers. According to Flint's congressional testimony, identifying individuals through their computers is fairly simple.
Investigators initiate downloads and then identify Internet protocol (IP) addresses. Law enforcement officials can then obtain physical addresses from Internet service providers.
"Once an offending computer has been identified in the local jurisdiction, the investigator may download child pornography directly from the suspect computer," Flint's congressional testimony reads. "Once criminal conduct is confirmed, the investigator sends process to the [service provider]. This request will attempt to identify the physical address associated with the IP address."
When all the evidence has been collected and reviewed, and a physical address has been identified, local authorities can then decide to apply for a search warrant to search the property in question and seize the offending computer.
"Approximately 30 percent of people who possess child pornography also victimize children," said Moran's office, citing a statistic from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Moran is currently working on a legislative initiative to obtain more funding for additional investigators and analysts in Virginia's two Internet Crimes Against Children task forces. The legislation is called Alicia's Law, named after Alicia Kozakiewicz, who in 2002 was abducted and sexually abused at the age of 13 in the basement of a Herndon man's residence before being discovered by police.
Times Community © 2007 | Fairfax Times
POLICE LAUNCH MASSIVE CHILD PORN CRACKDOWN
Feb 12, 2008 04:30 AM
CRIME REPORTER – THE STAR, Toronto, Ontario
Police will reveal details this morning of what's being called the largest child pornography sweep in the history of Ontario.
Yesterday, more than 18 police forces targeted child pornography in a series of raids across Ontario.
Details of the sweep, headed by the OPP Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet, will be released at a 10 a.m. news conference today.
Reflecting what investigators are calling a "social epidemic," new policing data reveal that thousands of Torontonians – and more than 15,000 Ontarians – are actively using their computers to distribute child pornography.
A special task force in the U.S. – with help from a global network of investigators, including Toronto police – has discovered that in a four-month period last year, more than 4,000 computers in this city were involved in trading images of "child sexual abuse," says the head of the task force.
"The numbers are scary, staggering," said Flint Waters, special agent for the Wyoming Attorney General and commander of the Internet Sex Crimes Against Children task force.
"It's horrifying. These numbers have been analyzed by a lot of folks, if anything they're on the low side. They're very conservative."
Data amassed since Jan. 1 last year reveal that more than 15,140 computers in Ontario – each one potentially employed by more than one user and with a cache of possibly hundreds or thousands of images – are sharing files in a global online web.
The U.S. task force, at the request of local police, revealed a snapshot of child porn activity in the province and Toronto between April 1 and Aug. 1. More than 44,970 computers nationwide are actively engaged in trading child pornography, the data show. And Canada ranks fourth in the world behind Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Bermuda for the highest distribution rates per capita of such illegal images.
With more than 570,000 computers sharing child porn in the United States, that country ranks seventh per capita worldwide.
Using the software Waters wrote in 2004 and has shared with police forces around the globe, detectives have been able to trace pornographic images to individual computers using serial numbers and Internet Protocol addresses. IPs are linked to a specific computer when it connects to the World Wide Web. Since IPs may change a few times a year, Waters' data has been corrected for possible duplication.
In Canada, pornographic images involving children have been traced to more than 205,305 unique IP addresses. In Ontario, more than 63,338 unique IP addresses have been linked to such images.
As shocking as these numbers seem, they are "extremely conservative," Waters said yesterday. The software is only able to catch about half the serial numbers each time it sweeps the Internet.
Det. Sgt. Kim Scanlan, head of the Toronto police Child Exploitation Section, said until now police have only been able to guess at the extent of the child porn problem.
"We always knew there were thousands, but we never able to put a number reasonably close to it," she said. "It's a social epidemic ... What is it about adults enjoying pictures of child sexual abuse?"
Scanlan's team of 15 investigators is one of the world's largest and trains detectives across Canada to use Waters' software and trace these images. Once on the Internet, Scanlan said, the images are "out there for life," and police may never be able to stop their distribution.
More worrisome is that according to U.S. data more than 30 per cent of those who view child pornography go on to become sex offenders who prey on children. And the traded images are in fact "crime scene photos of children being sexually abused," Scanlan said.
Waters' software allows police forces worldwide to contribute information about the online porn trade to a centre in Wyoming where his team processes the data. It has enabled Toronto police to identify many offenders they may have missed, Scanlan said.
"It's the tip of the iceberg," she said. "There are far more people that could be arrested than we have the resources to arrest."
Scanlan said her team must prioritize arrests, going after offenders who pose the greatest risk to children, such as those who have a history of abusing children, are known to police, or work with kids in positions of authority.
The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office has dropped the child porn possession charge that was filed against Michael Fiola, a former Department of Industrial Accidents investigator in Massachusetts. Fiola was fired from his job after child pornography was discovered on his state-issued laptop. The computer was a replacement laptop, issued in November 2006, after the one he had been using was stolen.
Several months later, IT officials at the DIA noticed that his data usage was four times higher than that of his colleagues. He was fired on March 14, 2007. Fiola had spent several years as a DIA employee investigating workers’ compensation fraud.
Massachusetts state police convinced the Boston Municipal Court to charge him with possession of child pornography in August 2007. After conducting a lengthy investigation, however, Tami Loehrs, a nationally renowned computer forensic analyst retained by Fiola’s defense team, discovered that the former investigator was the victim of spam.
Loehrs's 30-page report discusses how Fiola’s laptop had been running corrupt virus protection software and that crackers and spammers had barraged the computer’s memory with images of pre-teen porn and incest. The images could not be seen by the naked eye.
Loehrs says she is 100% convinced that viruses and trojans had compromised the laptop, which may have been hacked, and that her findings show no “user interaction preceding the porn activity,” some of which had been rapidly downloaded.
Fiola’s wife, Robin says her husband has always been computer illiterate, and that he plans to sue the DIA for “destroying our lives.” Fiola says that their friends abandoned them and he wants to get his reputation back.
Child pornography possession is considered a serious criminal and social offense in Massachusetts. A criminal charge of child porn possession can lead to the ruin of your reputation, the loss of your job, and the loss of relationships.
Probe shows kiddie porn rap was bogus, Bostonherald.com, June 16, 2008
Victim of malicious software tells how it cost him his job, his friends, his livelihood and his peace of mind, Computerworld.com, June 18, 2008