PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Harold Michael Nicol, age 53, of Cumberland, Maryland, today to 10 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for possessing child pornography. Judge Garbis ordered that upon his release from prison, Nicol must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). In 1997, Nicol was convicted of a sex offense in the Allegany County Circuit Court.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Cumberland Police Chief Charles H. Hinnant; and Allegany County State’s Attorney Michael O. Twigg.
According to the plea agreement, in November 2011, during an undercover internet investigation into a file sharing program, an undercover officer downloaded four files containing images of prepubescent minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults. Additional investigation determined that the files were being made available for download by Nicol from his home computer. A search warrant was subsequently executed at Nicol’s residence in Cumberland. Computers and computer storage media were seized, along with a .270 caliber rifle and a .50 caliber muzzle loader rifle. Because of his previous felony conviction, Nicol is prohibited from possessing firearms. Nicol’s computers and storage media were forensically examined and revealed that Nicol possessed over 400 images of child pornography.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
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.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, the Maryland State Police, Cumberland Police Department and the Allegany County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.