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November 2011
Tim Bilecki

Airman Caught Downloading Child Pornography Sentenced to 6 Months

Possession of Child Pornography
Clovis AFB, New Mexico
Air Force Senior Airman - E-4
Six months confinement.

An Airman stationed at Clovis, New Mexico was charged with possession of child pornography after being caught up in a federal and state child pornography Internet sting operation known as “Operation Round-Up.”

In this operation, federal and state law enforcement agencies monitored various peer-to-peer file-sharing sites, waiting for known videos and images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to be accessed or downloaded. Once the target files were accessed or downloaded, the law enforcement agents then traced the IP address to determine the user’s location.

In this case, the Airman was utilizing the Internet from his Air Force lodging room at Cannon AFB, New Mexico to download the alleged child pornography. Law enforcement then recorded all the various actions of our client while the alleged child pornography was being downloaded and obtained a search warrant to search his lodging room and computer. After the search warrant was executed, his computer was seized and sent to the USACIL forensic lab for review and analysis. The results of the search confirmed the initial observations of law enforcement that his personal computer was used to download images and videos of child pornography.

After UCMJ Article 134 child pornography defense attorney Tim Bilecki was retained on the case, we realized that the facts in this case were undoubtedly stacked against us, so we attacked the weakest link in the government’s case — the initial search authorization.

Our claim was that law enforcement agents did not have the right to surreptitiously monitor the activities of our client and then use that monitoring to obtain search authorization for the computer. If we were able to get all of the evidence suppressed, the government’s case would fall apart. We pressed this issue, as well as other potential defenses in this case, and tried to leverage a favorable pre-trial agreement with the government.

The prosecutors, however, would not agree to any plea deal for less than 5 years of confinement. The week before the trial, we changed our plea from Not Guilty to Guilty and put on an extensive case in extenuation and mitigation without a deal in place for the client in order to give him the absolute best possible outcome.

After a full day in court at the sentencing hearing, the military judge sentenced our client to 6 months of confinement and a Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD). Given the typical sentence for child pornography and the five-year plea deal that was offered by the government, this was a very favorable result for our client.

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