SAN FRANCISCO - A criminal investigator with the California Department of Justice faces up to 10 years in prison today following his arrest this morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on possession of child pornography charges.
Jeffrey David Schinkel, 34, of Novato, Calif., was arraigned in federal court here this morning and pleaded not guilty to the charges. According to the criminal complaint, Schinkel allegedly communicated with an undercover ICE agent about child pornography and sent the agent an invitation to join a members-only child pornography website that Schinkel, himself, accessed. Knowingly accessing a website containing child pornography with the intent to view the material is a violation of federal law.
The criminal complaint states Schinkel is employed by the California Department of Justice as a criminal investigator. The California Department of Justice underscored his actions were not taken in connection with any Department of Justice investigation.
Schinkel's arrest was the result of an eight-month investigation by ICE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence also assisted federal authorities.
"People who download and possess child pornography are truly putting the world's youth at risk," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Francisco. "We're talking about images and scenes involving real children who are being sexually abused and exploited in horrific ways. ICE will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here and around the world to target those who commit these types of crimes and see they are brought to justice."
Schinkel is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. His next appearance is Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m. before the Honorable Edward M. Chen for identification of counsel.
The maximum penalty for possession of child pornography is 10 years, a $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of 5 years to life. In addition, if convicted, Schinkel would be required to register as a sex offender.
This investigation itself is part of ICE's Operation Predator, an ongoing initiative targeting those who sexually exploit children. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity by contacting ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; and NCMEC, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.