News and Press Releases

Hazen Man Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison on Child Pornography Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on April 20, 2012, Michael Lynn Wieland of Hazen, N.D., a prior convicted sex offender, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson on two charges of possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors and five charges of receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

Judge Erickson sentenced Wieland to 24 years’ imprisonment to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Wieland was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,500 and to pay a $700 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund.

In Bismarck, U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said, “The 24-year sentence in this case is appropriate given Defendant Wieland’s status as a multiple child pornography offender. In North Dakota stiff sentences like these await those who collect internet images of the victimization of children.”

“Anyone who sexually exploits children will learn that ICE and our law enforcement partners will hold them accountable for their despicable actions and that neither distance nor the anonymity of cyberspace will protect them from justice,” said Mike Feinberg, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Bloomington, MN. “Our HSI agents work tirelessly to investigate child predators who
victimize the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Wieland, 32, pleaded guilty on Dec. 12, 2011, to possessing over 300,000 images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. While Wieland was on probation for a prior child pornography conviction, agents and officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Grand Forks Police Department, and the N.D. Parole and Probation Office executed a search warrant at his residence. The agents were acting on a tip from one of Wieland’s neighbors. During the search agents discovered a computer containing suspected child pornography.
Following this incident Wieland moved to Hazen, N.D., to reside with his parents. Upon Wieland’s arriving in Hazen, Wieland’s probation officer immediately conducted a probationary search of his residence, at which time he discovered various electronic media containing additional suspected child pornography. Wieland’s probation was immediately revoked and he was sentenced to return to the state penitentiary. In the meantime, Wieland’s electronic media was forensically examined by the N.D. Bureau of Criminal
Investigation. This examination of all of the electronic media seized in both searches revealed more than 315,000 images depicting the graphic sexual abuse of children, including infants and prepubescent girls.

This case was brought as a 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the N.D. Parole and Probation Services, N.D. Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl prosecuted the case.

 

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