FARGO, N.D. – A Portland, N.D., man was sentenced on Monday in federal court to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography. The case resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the cooperation of the North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Michael Karolus, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson for possessing materials involving minors being sexually exploited. Judge Erickson also ordered Karolus to pay restitution in the amount of $1,000 to an identified victim, and to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund. Karolus had previously pleaded guilty to the charge on July 19.
In March 2010, an ICE HSI agent received a tip from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children regarding a sexually explicit posting made on Craigslist, an Internet-based trading website. The post was eventually traced to Karolus' home in Portland.
On May 5, during a search of his residence, ICE HSI agents seized Karolus' personal computer. A forensic examination of the computer revealed 37 image files and 11 videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit activity.
Karolus eventually admitted to possessing child pornography. Specifically, he said that he received and distributed child pornography with individuals he met on Yahoo Messenger. Karolus also admitted posting the Craigslist advertisement which initiated the investigation.
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 or 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.