GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A U.S. Border Patrol agent from northeast Montana pleaded guilty Tuesday to child pornography charges, announced U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana.
Paul Anthony Rible, 39, from Plentywood, Mont., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong. Sentencing has been set for March 25.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
- An investigation into Rible began when special agents determined that an IP address assigned to Rible's residence offered known child pornography video files available for download via the Internet from Oct. 12 through Dec. 13, 2011. A special agent viewed some of the files which were available for download and determined they depicted children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
- A search warrant for Rible's residence was obtained and served May 22. Rible was summoned to the Havre Border Patrol station to be interviewed on the day of the search. While special agents conducted the search at Rible's Plentywood residence, Rible was interviewed in Havre.
- Rible admitted to viewing child pornography on his computers at his residence in Plentywood. He described the images, and his description met the federal definition for child pornography. Rible said he used the Internet, his computer and specific file-sharing programs to obtain the images. Rible confirmed that he viewed the files listed in the IP activity log which showed the video files available for download between Oct. 12 and Dec. 13, 2011.
- Rible also admitted he viewed child pornography on a laptop computer the night before the interview. He produced the laptop computer and a forensic analysis of the laptop produced evidence that Rible had visited websites consistent with online viewing of child pornography May 21.
- No additional evidence was located on the computer or electronic media seized from Rible's residence. Special agents determined that the computer Rible had used to access and view the child pornography had malfunctioned and had been disposed of prior to the search of the residence.
Rible faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
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-DHS-2ICE 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-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative 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.