Michael John Ebenhoeh pleaded guilty in April following an investigation by the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Investigators determined that between November 2010 and July 2011, multiple digital files of child pornography involving very young children were downloaded and offered for sharing from Ebenhoeh's residence.
In September 2011, investigators executed a search warrant at the residence and several computers were seized. At the time of the search, Ebenhoeh's son, Joseph Ebenhoeh, 27, was arrested. On the day of the search, an investigator approached Michael and told him that a child pornography file had been found on his computer. At that time, he denied knowing how the child pornography files ended up on his computer.
Further investigation determined there were separate Internet accounts in the home associated with Michael and his son, and that the computer that belonged to Michael had not been used by his son. According to the plea agreement, investigators interviewed Michael again, who then admitted he had lied to the police. He admitted that four or five times a week he had used the computer to search online for child pornography. Investigators found sexually explicit images of children between the ages of 2 and 14 on Michael's computer. Several of the children depicted were identified as sex abuse victims from Missouri, Nevada, Maryland and Washington.
Michael's son subsequently pleaded guilty to possessing sexually explicit images of minors. He was sentenced in July 2012 to 210 months in prison followed by 25 years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by Boise Police Department detectives, who are members of the Idaho ICAC, with assistance from HSI and the Mountain Home Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Idaho District.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are 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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.