ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Connecticut computer technician, who claimed hackers were responsible for sexually explicit images of minors linked to him, was convicted Thursday by an Alaska federal jury of advertising child pornography and two counts of distribution of child pornography.
Michael J. Carroll, 59, of Milford, Conn., blamed a Target-style attack, referring to the recent data harvest by hackers on the national retailer, as the reason investigators found child pornography on his computers and in his email account. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) learned of Carroll in 2011 when an undercover HSI special agent in Alaska infiltrated the child pornography email distribution group he belonged to.
According to evidence presented at trial, Carroll distributed nearly 100 sexually explicit images on two occasions to approximately 50 members in the international email group, including the HSI special agent posing as a child pornography collector. The illicit images that Carroll distributed involved elementary school-aged children, toddlers and infants.
Carroll testified that he was a highly skilled computer technician with a very sophisticated network. Despite that, he claimed hackers were able to cause his email to send messages reflecting the Internet Protocol address assigned to his home. He also said hackers were able to populate his computer system with sexually explicit images of children organized in a plethora of conspicuously named folders. Carroll likened his unfortunate experience to that of Target.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler said, "In convicting the defendant, the jury rejected the assertion that someone else was responsible for these crimes." She commended the efforts of law enforcement in dismantling the email group, noting other offenders in the same group have also been prosecuted in Alaska.
Carroll’s sentencing is scheduled for April 23. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for advertising child pornography and a maximum of 30 years. For the distribution counts, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Carroll may also be fined up to $250,000 for each count, and faces a minimum of five years of supervised release.
HSI Anchorage and HSI New Haven, Conn., investigated this case with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and the Anchorage Police Department. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska is prosecuting.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.
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.