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Child Exploitation

SSA employee sentenced for receiving child pornography

SEATTLE – A former federal employee with the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Seattle was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to five years in prison for receipt of child pornography.

Thomas Joseph Barrett, 50, of Lynwood, a senior case technician with the SSA at the time of his arrest in January, pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year. Upon completion of his prison term, Barrett will also be subject to 10 years of supervised release.  

The charge stemmed from a multi-agency probe by the SSA’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Washington State Patrol. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington prosecuted the case.

According to court records, the SSA launched an investigation of Barrett in November 2012 after obtaining evidence that he was using his government computer to access the Internet inappropriately during work hours. A review of Barrett’s Internet history and an examination of his computer's hard drive produced evidence that he had viewed child pornography. Investigators also found that he had accessed news stories about the penalties for possessing and distributing child pornography. Search warrants served at Barrett’s home and work revealed he had accessed more than 3,500 images of child pornography.

This 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.