HOUSTON — A local retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer was indicted on Tuesday on child pornography charges, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, southern District of Texas. This investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Dieter David Palmer, 42, of Houston, was arrested on July 12 following the return of a five-count indictment on June 22. In custody since his arrest, Palmer was ordered released on a $50,000 bond by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen W. Smith following a hearing. Judge Smith also imposed a number of special conditions on Palmer, including prohibiting him from using electronic devices which could access the Internet, and from contact with children. He is also be subject to GPS monitoring and cannot travel outside of Harris County. Palmer pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is set for trial before U.S. District Judge Ellison on Aug. 29.
Testimony presented during Thursday's detention hearing alleged that Palmer committed a number of violations related to child pornography, including: subscribing to and purchasing membership to websites offering child pornography over the Internet, and distributing and receiving images of child pornography using his e-mail accounts. Palmer had two computers at his residence when contacted by law enforcement in March. A forensic analysis done by ICE HSI agents of both computers revealed more than 1,800 digital images and at least 36 videos of child pornography including images depicting children in bondage. Additionally, according to the testimony, these images included children under 12 years old being sexually violated by adults, and photographed in positions which caused their genitalia to be displayed in a lewd/lascivious manner.
At the time of the investigation and when contacted by law enforcement, Palmer held a security clearance due to his current employment with a navy contractor.
If convicted of distributing, receiving, attempted receipt or transporting child pornography, Palmer faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. Possessing child pornography carries a maximum punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $250,000 upon conviction. Each offense also carries a maximum of a life term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children. Additionally, if convicted, registration as a sex offender is mandatory.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Demetrius Bivins, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.
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. 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.