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Child Exploitation
04/14/2011

Michigan sex offender sentenced in child pornography case

Sentence followed Michigan Supreme Court decision

DETROIT - A Michigan man was sentenced Thursday on a child pornography conviction and following a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Douglas Lazarus, 49, a Jackson, Mich., resident and prior sex offender, was sentenced for possessing child pornography. Lazarus received 23 to 48 months in state prison. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lazarus' sentencing comes after a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court in the case that held that viewing child pornography on websites constitutes possession of child pornography. The Michigan Supreme Court decision in this case potentially affects the prosecution of every child pornography case throughout the State of Michigan.

Lazarus was the subject of an ICE HSI national investigation dubbed "Operation Falcon," which targeted persons who obtained paid subscriptions which provided access to child pornography websites, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests nationwide. The Lazarus investigation was worked in conjunction with Jackson County Sheriff's and Prosecutor's offices. A forensic examination of a computer used by Lazarus, and obtained by ICE HSI special agents, revealed 37 images of suspected child pornography in temporary Internet files (TIF). Lazarus was arrested and charged in 2006 with knowingly possessing child sexually abusive material.

In 2007, ICE HSI special agents provided testimony before the Jackson County Circuit Court about the ICE HSI investigation and computer forensics testimony describing Internet websites, pictures and graphics are saved on the user's computer as "TIF" files.

The next time the person goes to the same webpage, the computer loads the pictures and graphics previously saved on the computer, making the webpage load faster. An ICE HSI special agent also testified that images found in TIFs can be accessed and retrieved by the user.

The case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court and later affirmed that Lazarus possessed the suspected child pornography images when he viewed them on the Internet using his computer, and that the temporary Internet files were evidence of having possessed the images. Following the Michigan Supreme Court decision, the case was returned to the Jackson County Circuit Court for trial. Lazarus subsequently pleaded guilty to the original charge in January 2011.

Lazarus, a convicted sex offender, served time in 1993 for attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

"Child pornography is the permanent record of the sexual exploitation and abuse of a child and it must be stopped," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Michigan and Ohio. "I applaud the role of our special agents, and how their forensic expertise helped this case, along with the efforts of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office detectives and the prosecutors involved - all of whom were instrumental in securing this conviction and the related Michigan Supreme Court decision. HSI will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to protect our communities from those who criminally exploit our children. Simply put, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves."

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.

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.