According to the statement of facts, in April 2006 Kunst purchased a subscription to a child pornography website. Kunst was identified in January 2007 after ICE agents obtained the records of a credit card processor through which the subscriptions to the child pornography website were processed.
During a search of Kunst's home on Sept. 4, 2007, Howard County police officers recovered, among other things, a desktop computer, nine pieces of removable media, a password list for numerous listed websites, and removable media in envelopes. Forensic analysis of the computer and removable media revealed over 5,000 still images of suspected child pornography and over 200 moving digital images of suspected child pornography, including images of prepubescent children involved in sexual activity and child pornography images which involved sadistic or masochistic conduct.
Law enforcement records revealed that Kunst was convicted on Nov. 22, 2002 in Howard County Circuit Court for sexual child abuse and was sentenced to three years, all suspended, and three years supervised probation. Kunst's probation period had been extended, and expired on Nov. 22, 2007. Kunst is also a registered sex offender on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry website.
"This case is an example of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's commitment to proactively investigate those who prey upon children," stated Special Agent in Charge James A. Dinkins.
Kunst faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison for possession of child pornography, followed by supervised release for life. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for July 24, 2008 at 9:15 a.m.
Kunst was arrested as part of Operation Predator, a national ICE initiative that protects children by investigating and presenting for prosecution pedophiles, Internet predators, human traffickers, international sex tourists, and other predatory criminals. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 10,900 child predators and sex offenders nationwide. For more information about Operation Predator, visit www.ice.gov.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or Cyber Tipline.
U.S. Attorney Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie S. Greenberg, who is prosecuting the case.