JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Derek Alan Lee, 44, of Orange Park, Fla., pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving images and videos depicting child pornography over the Internet.
The case was investigated by the Child Predator Cybercrime Unit of the Florida Attorney General's Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Clay County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.
At the time of his arrest on Dec.10, 2010, Lee was an employee with the United States Forest Service. He faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a potential life term of supervised release. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, in November 2010, an investigator with the Florida Attorney General's Office, Child Predator Cybercrime Unit, began an online undercover investigation to identify individuals using the internet to share images and videos of child pornography.
The investigator identified a particular host computer that was sharing several hundred files depicting child pornography. Subpoenaed documents from the Internet service provider revealed that this host computer resolved to the residence of Lee in Orange Park.
On December 10, 2010, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Lee's residence in Orange Park. After securing the residence, the agents interviewed Lee's stepson, Jeffrey Dean McMillan, 21. McMillan admitted that he possessed child pornography on his computer, and he indicated that images and videos of child pornography were also located on his stepfather's (Lee's) computer. McMillan was placed under arrest.
The agents contacted Lee and invited him to return to the residence. A short time later, Lee arrived at the residence and was interviewed. When asked what kind of files he had on his computer, Lee responded, "If you have a search warrant, you found that I have child pornography on my computer." Lee stated that he viewed the images "every couple of weeks," and that he has been downloading child pornography for 10 years. After the interview, Lee was arrested.
According to court documents, subsequent forensic analysis of the computer media obtained from the residence revealed that both Lee and McMillan possessed hundreds of images and videos of child pornography on their respective computers. Specifically, Lee's computer contained approximately 111 videos and 116 images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Lee also maintained a collection of incest stories that featured adults engaged in the sexual molestation of children.
McMillan pleaded guilty in a related federal case to possession of child pornography on March 15, and he faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a potential life term of supervised release. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
The investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
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.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Rodney Brown for the Middle District of Florida.