COLUMBUS, Ohio - A 58-year-old former Columbus-area pediatrician pleaded guilty in federal court today to one count of possession of child pornography following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Philip T. Nowicki, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography after investigators found that he used a computer at the Columbus hospital where he worked to subscribe to an illegal international child porn website that gave him access to thousands of images and videos of child pornography.
"Every time an image of child pornography is viewed, an innocent child is exploited," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Ohio and Michigan. "ICE and our partners will continue the fight against those who steal the innocence of the innocent."
At the plea hearing, an HSI agent testified that agents investigating an illegal international child porn website identified Nowicki as a subscriber to the website. In June 2006, agents searched a computer in his office and found that he had subscribed to the website from that computer and also that he had used the computer to access child pornography videos with an external media device such as a thumb drive.
Agents executed a search warrant at his Canal Winchester, Ohio, home in October 2006 and seized a personal computer that a forensic analysis found contained approximately 120 images of child pornography in temporary internet files.
Nowicki's credit card records show that he paid $79.99 a month for four consecutive months in 2005 and 2006 to subscribe to the website.
Possession of child pornography is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Judge Sargus will set a date for sentencing.
Following the execution of the search warrants, the hospital terminated his employment. Nowicki moved to Webster, Mass., where he currently lives.
"If people know they can make money trafficking images of children being sexually exploited, that puts all children at risk," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter M. Stewart. "Prosecuting those who jeopardize the safety and well-being of children will continue to be a priority for the office."
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.