Tarrant County man whose computer was hacked into by FBI agents is convicted of child porn

A Burleson man has been convicted in federal court of child pornography charges in a case in which he sought to challenge the FBI’s technique of taking over an illegal website and hacking into computers that accessed it.

The federal jury in Dallas on Friday convicted Daryl Glenn Pawlak, 39, of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of access with intent to view material containing child pornography involving a prepubescent minor.

Pawlak faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count and a $250,000 fine. He remains behind bars until his sentencing, which is scheduled for October.

Prior to the weeklong trial, federal prosecutors defended the FBI’s decision to secretly hijack and peddle a child porn site called Playpen for two weeks as part of a sting operation. During that time, tens of thousands of images of child pornography were uploaded to the site.

Pawlak’s attorneys joined legal challenges nationwide in an attempt to get the charges dismissed, arguing that the government went too far by using a single warrant in Virginia to hack the computers of people all over the country.

Pawlak’s attorney, Steven Jumes, called the government the “largest distributor of child pornography” and the “largest exploiter of children” prior to the trial. He also said the government’s conduct was “the essence of outrageousness.”

Jumes could not be reached Monday for comment.

The case ignited debate among legal scholars and defense attorneys about internet privacy and the FBI’s decision to keep such a website up and running while more children were harmed.

Dozens of defense attorneys have filed motions to suppress evidence from the child pornography sting, called Operation Pacifier.

In some cases, federal judges have granted those motions. But most attempts to get charges thrown out have failed, legal experts say, even though some judges have ruled that the government violated the law and acted inappropriately.

Playpen operated in the “dark Web” where users could log in anonymously and download images. About 417,000 usernames were registered on Playpen when it was removed from the internet, officials said.

Pawlak was one of those caught in Operation Pacifier.  He registered in September 2014 and spent more than 14 hours logged into the website prior to the FBI’s two-week operation, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Evidence during the trial showed that computers assigned to Pawlak by two different employers contained child pornography files. His second work computer, which he had for three months, contained more than 800 images, according to federal authorities.

Pawlak told the FBI that he began looking at child pornography in 2012, authorities said, and that he preferred looking at girls ages 7 to 11.

At least 350 people in the U.S. have been prosecuted as part of the FBI operation so far, according to the U.S. attorney. Also, more than 50 children in the country who were sexually abused, including at least four in North Texas, have been identified or rescued, officials said.

The FBI has declined to comment about Operation Pacifier.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas said in court filings that it acted within the law and that dismissing the case would have given people like Pawlak a “free pass” for trolling the web for photos and videos of children being sexually abused.

 

 

Source:https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/07/03/tarrant-county-man-convicted-child-porn-fbi-hacked-computer