SEATTLE - A Woodinville, Wash., man who used the Internet to trade child pornography cross-country was sentenced today to 86 months in prison, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Richard Lindsay Minifie, 44, was arrested in early June and pleaded guilty a few weeks later to possession of child pornography. Prior to his arrest, he served as a youth coach of neighborhood sports teams.
According to court documents, Minifie came to the attention of ICE agents in March 2008, following the seizure of a computer from a suspected child pornography distributor in Virginia. On the computer, investigators found logs of online chats between the Virginia suspect and a screen name and Internet address belonging to Minifie.
During the online conversations, the two exchanged pictures of children engaged in sexually explicit activity and commented on the photos. The logs indicate Minifie sent more than 330 images to the person in Virginia.
When ICE agents executed a search warrant at Minifie's residence, one of his computers was found to contain more than 600 images of child pornography. He even used an image of child pornography as a screen saver on one computer.
"Child predators often lurk in the shadows of the Internet, falsely believing their illegal actions are concealed from scrutiny," said Special Agent in Charge Leigh Winchell who oversees ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "This case further strengthens our resolve to investigate those who exploit innocent children in this manner."
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman told Minifie, "You created a market so that children are used as commodities to be traded back and forth." She also noted that more than a hundred different children were pictured in the sexually explicit photos he viewed, saying there were, "137 children whose lives will be forever altered."
Upon completion of his prison term, Minifie will be on supervised release for 20 years. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
The charges against Minifie are the result of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative to identify, investigate, and arrest those who prey on children. ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.