HOUSTON — A retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer was sentenced Thursday to 160 months in federal prison for receiving child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcementf's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).
Dieter David Palmer, 42, was identified as a person who purchased a membership to child pornography websites that were under investigation. The investigation began as a Department of Justice operation (Operation Flicker) targeting a criminal organization operating multiple commercial child pornography websites. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, who handed down the sentence March 22, also ordered Palmer to be on supervised release for life, and he must register as a sex offender.
NCIS followed up on current or former Navy and Marine employees who were identified in Operation Flicker as having purchased membership in the illicit sites. On March 11, 2011, special agents from NCIS and HSI conducted a consensual interview with Palmer to discuss his purchase of membership in the child pornography websites.
At that time, Palmer admitted he purchased membership to child pornography websites, and chatted and exchanged child pornography images through his e-mail account. After Palmer consented to a search of the computers at his residence, an HSI computer forensic agent located several child pornography images on Palmer's desktop and laptop computers, and an external hard drive.
Palmer pleaded guilty to the charge Dec. 1, 2011. According to the plea agreement, a forensic search of Palmer's e-mail account revealed that between Feb. 13 and Feb. 17, 2011 Palmer received 231 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Palmer, who was previously released on bond, was taken into custody following the hearing and will be transferred to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Demetrius Bivins and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.
As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.