BOISE, Idaho - A former software engineer at Micron Technology, Inc., pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of sexually explicit images of minors, following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
David Lee McDermid, 33, moved to Boise, Idaho, in November 2000 from Canada, and began working for Micron Technology two months later. He worked there for about five years before moving back to Canada.
McDermid arranged for a commercial mover to transport his personal belongings to Ottawa, Ontario, where he was living. Prior to his items being shipped, McDermid contacted a friend in Boise and asked if he would delete some pornography files from his computers' hard drives.
The friend attempted to delete files from folders that were suspiciously named or that he thought contained pornography. He also purged the Recycle Bin and defragged the computers.
A few days later, McDermid's belongings were shipped to him in Ottawa. When they arrived in Canada, officers with the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) conducted a border search of McDermid's items, including his computers, which were found to contain images of child pornography.
The CBSA seized McDermid's computers and he was told that images of child pornography had been discovered on his computers. McDermid replied that he thought those had been deleted.
Detectives with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) conducted a forensic analysis of the computers. Later, they interview McDermid and asked him about the origin of the child pornography. He responded that he had downloaded the images from the Internet.
At that time, the amount of child pornography found on McDermid's computers was the largest amount ever seized by OPS. Canadian authorities subsequently turned over McDermid's computers to HSI forensic analysts for further examination.
McDermid faced criminal charges in Canada for importing and possessing child pornography. He was acquitted in November 2008 after Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ruled that he had never technically possessed thousands of child pornography images in Canada because he tried to have the three computer hard drives deleted before they were shipped from Boise.
Furthermore, Justice Hackland ruled that the instruction from McDermid to his friend in Boise to "nuke" the hard drives before sending them to Ottawa created reasonable doubt that McDermid intended to import the materials to Canada. Because Canadian law prohibits prosecution for possession of child pornography in another country, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho filed federal criminal charges.
"Possessing illicit images of innocent children is a serious crime," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE HSI for the Pacific Northwest. "HSI will vigorously investigate child exploitation cases like this one to protect our children and bring these predators to justice."
Possession of sexually explicit images of minors carries a maximum prison sentence of 120 months, supervised release of up to life, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for January 26, 2011.
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