Tuesday, August 7, 2007

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Former Jail Administrator Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

LUFKIN – Investigators with Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit assisted the FBI Monday with the arrest of a former Nacogdoches County deputy sheriff who faces several federal child pornography charges. Michael Paul Kennedy, 32, was arraigned today in Lufkin and taken into federal custody.

A federal grand jury in Beaumont indicted Kennedy last week on charges of possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography. The Office of the Attorney General conducted the investigation, and Assistant Attorney General Sarah Wannarka is prosecuting the case.

Media links
Michael Kennedy
Michael Kennedy
Video of arrest
Video of Michael Kennedy's arrest

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who exploit and prey upon our children,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue aggressively cracking down on cyber predators and child pornographers. We are grateful to the Texas Rangers, the FBI and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas John L. Ratcliffe for their assistance with this case.”

The Cyber Crimes Unit began its investigation in June 2006 after receiving information from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which conducted a series of Internet pornography hearings. Kennedy’s name surfaced during the committee’s investigation into credit card holders who purchased access to a Web site containing child pornography. In October 2006, Cyber Crimes Unit officers interviewed Kennedy, and searched his computer, which revealed over 1,000 images of child pornography. At the time of the interview, Kennedy was the Nacogdoches County Jail administrator.

A possession of child pornography conviction carries a punishment of up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. Each receipt and transportation of child pornography charge carries a five- to 20-year federal prison term, with a mandatory minimum of five years, and up to a $250,000 fine.

The case is part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a national initiative that encourages the use of multi-jurisdictional task forces to investigate and prosecute the sexual exploitation of children online. In Texas, investigative assistance in these cases is provided by the Texas Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project. For more information on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting child predators. Since 2003, the Cyber Crimes Unit and Fugitive Unit have arrested more than 600 sex predators. Prosecutors also have obtained convictions against more than 60 men on child pornography charges.