U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
March 23, 2011
NEWPORT MAN ARRESTED TWICE ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES
PLEADS GUILTY IN FEDERAL COURT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Newport, R.I., man pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to receiving and distributing child pornography, admitting that he received, downloaded and distributed hundreds of images and dozens of videos; it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha.
Michael E. Hodge, 55, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to one count of receiving child pornography in 2009 and one count of receiving and distributing child pornography in 2010. The charges emanated from two different investigations, one which resulted in a previous arrest on child pornography charges and a State Court bail condition prohibiting access to computers and the Internet.
According to court documents and information presented to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Rogers, the first charge, receipt of child pornography, is based on an investigation that occurred in 2008 and 2009, for which the defendant was arrested after a State authorized search warrant was executed at his home, and evidence was found to show that he had downloaded a large quantity of child pornography over the Internet. Authorities became aware of Hodge’s activities as the result of a U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) transnational investigation; Operation THIN ICE. Hodge was released on bail in May of 2009 by the State Court, with a condition of his bail that the he not have access to a computer or the Internet. This matter was investigated by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations and the Rhode Island Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC).
In June of 2010, the ICAC Task Force discovered that Hodge was once again receiving child pornography over the Internet onto his new computer, in violation of his bail conditions. The ICAC Task Force also determined that Hodge was sharing child pornography with others over the Internet. As a result of these actions, Hodge was arrested and charged in federal court with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Following Hodge’s first arrest, a forensic audit of his computers revealed that he possessed nearly 400 images and 11 videos containing child pornography. Following his second arrest, a forensic audit discovered more than 200 images and 24 videos containing child pornography.
Hodge is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14, 2011. He faces a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of up to 20 years in federal prison, to be followed by a minimum of 5 years of supervised release on each charge.
The Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a Department of Justice grant-funded program administered by the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit, comprised of five State Police Detectives, a Detective from the Providence Police Department, West Warwick Police Department, Coventry Police Department and an agent from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (ICE). The objective of the RI ICAC Task Force is to form strong working relationships between local, state and federal law enforcement in order to effectively and efficiently prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute online child exploitation and child pornography crimes.