HARTFORD, Conn. - A Danbury, Conn. man, Albert Barnes, also known as "Fritz," was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint charging him with one count of possession of child pornography. The arrest of Barnes, 61, was announced by David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, following an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to the criminal complaint ICE initiated an undercover investigation in November 2008 related to an illegal web site that allowed access to child pornographic images and video files for a monthly fee. It is alleged that on Nov. 16, 2008, Barnes accessed the member-restricted website to obtain numerous visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
In July 2010, ICE agents seized two desktop computers from Barnes' residence. An analysis of the computers allegedly revealed approximately 150 suspected child pornography images.
Following Barnes' arrest, he appeared before U. S.Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith in Hartford and was released on $50,000 bond.
If convicted of the charge of possession of child pornography, Barnes faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
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 http://www.cybertipline.com.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater.