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Child Exploitation

Former city councilman convicted on child pornography charges

SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal jury convicted a former city councilman and firefighter from Eastern Washington last Thursday on charges of possession and receipt of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Timothy Schmekel, 37, of Twisp, Wash., was indicted on child pornography charges in August 2008. He had previously served on the Twisp City Council and had been employed as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.

In April 2008, ICE agents joined detectives with the Okanogan County Sheriff's office and the Twisp Police Department to serve a search warrant at Schmekel's residence. They seized a laptop computer and a BlackBerry handheld device that belonged to Schmekel.

A subsequent forensic examination of the seized equipment revealed more than 500 images of child pornography on the laptop and 11 similar images on the BlackBerry. Many of those images were of children under the age of twelve years old, engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

"Every time an image of child pornography is viewed or traded, an innocent child is exploited," said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "ICE remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who engage in this type of illegal activity to ensure they are brought to justice."

Schmekel's case went to trial on Sept. 21, 2009. His sentencing is scheduled for January 2010.

ICE was joined in this investigation by the Okanogan Sheriff's Office and the Twisp Police Department.