DENVER – A former local preschool teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to distributing child pornography.
This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado, and Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of the Denver office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
David Moe, 46, of Denver, appeared at the change of plea hearing in custody. U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez is scheduled to sentence Moe Sept. 10.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on May 4, 2012, a detective with the Loveland Police Department, who is a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, while working in an undercover capacity, logged onto the Internet and accessed a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. The undercover detective attempted to download a digital file believed to contain child pornography from a remote host computer. The detective was able to connect directly to the remote host computer and the requested file was placed in queue. He remained in queue to receive the file until May 6, 2012, when the connection was terminated. He was unable to complete the download.
Using investigative techniques, the detective was able to determine that a child pornography file was being offered for distribution. It was later determined that the Internet Protocol (IP) address offering the child pornography file for distribution resolved to Moe’s residence in Denver, Colo. A federal search warrant was obtained by HSI, and was executed July 24, 2012. During the execution of the search warrant, items containing child pornography were seized, including two desktop computers, numerous external hard drives, and 383 CDs and DVDs. All the items seized by HSI belonged to Moe.
During the execution of the warrant, special agents learned from Moe that he had been a teacher at Paddington Station Preschool for the last 18 years. At the time of the search warrant, Moe taught Cultural Rhythms/Enrichments (3 to 5 year olds) and had been the Director of Enrichments and Before and After School Care programs since 2005.
A forensic examination was conducted on Moe’s computers, external hard drives, CDs and DVDs. Evidence of distributing and receiving child pornography was found on Moe’s two computers and an external hard drive. Evidence of child pornography possession was found on Moe’s computers, external hard drives, and 383 CDs and DVDs. At least 800,000 child pornography/erotica images and over 13,000 child pornography/erotica videos were located on Moe’s computers and computer media, including the video that had been made available to the undercover detective in May 2012.
A forensic examination reflected that the child pornography possessed by Moe was well-organized and archived. The examination revealed that Moe possessed child pornography for at least 10 years. Further, the examination revealed that Moe distributed and received child pornography since at least 2007. Moe’s child pornography collection included pornographic depictions of children as young as toddlers.
As described in the plea agreement, a forensic examination was conducted on Moe’s computers and computer media. All images and videos of child pornography recovered during forensic examination were provided to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). A thorough review of all the images and videos possessed by Moe reflected no evidence that he had created or produced child pornography. He pleaded guilty May 30 to distributing existing child pornography.
"Combating the exploitation of children is one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Colorado, and of federal law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "Thanks to the excellent forensic work of HSI, and the hard work of the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we have obtained a stiff guilty plea from a defendant who distributed large quantities of child pornography, while working with children in a school."
"Predators who possess child pornography like David Moe, share their huge collections with other predators as if they were trading baseball cards, without any thought or care that each image represents a traumatized helpless child victim," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge, HSI Denver. "HSI’s ongoing Operation Predator initiative is an extremely active program targeting and pursuing prosecution for these callous criminals who sexually exploit children."
Moe faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison, and a maximum of not more than 20 years in federal prison. He also faces a term of supervised release of not less than five years, and up to life. In addition, Moe faces a fine of up to $250,000 as well as restitution. He will also be required to register as a sex offender. Finally, he has agreed to forfeit all of his computers and computer media containing child pornography.
This case is being investigated by HSI. Moe is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia Riewerts Wolak, District of Colorado.
The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.