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Child Exploitation

Indiana attorney arrested and charged with distributing child pornography

INDIANAPOLIS - A local attorney accused of possessing and distributing child pornography was arrested and charged in federal court Tuesday. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Samuel Hasler, 50, of Anderson, Ind., was arrested March 9 and charged with two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, Hasler allegedly distributed multiple images of child pornography via the Internet in December to a person in another state. On Feb. 14, Hasler sent additional images of child pornography from his computer to a police officer working in an undercover capacity.

On March 9, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Hasler's law office in Anderson. During the search, agents recovered images and videos of child pornography contained on an external hard drive in Hasler's law office. The complaint does not allege that Hasler produced the child pornography.

ICE agents arrested Hasler at the law office March 9, and his initial appearance was held late the same day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kennard P. Foster in Indianapolis, Ind. Hasler was ordered to reside in an Indianapolis community confinement facility pending trial.

"Sexually exploiting children is a crime that has traumatic effects on the most vulnerable members of our society," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE aggressively uses its investigative authorities to protect our communities from those who seek to exploit children for their perverse gratification. We have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota, Southern District of Indiana, is prosecuting the case. If convicted, Hasler faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to a lifetime of supervised release following any prison sentences imposed.

ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Carmel Police Department and the Fishers Police Department. These law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with ICE, actively support the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Hamilton County Metropolitan Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The public is reminded that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.

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.