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April 1, 2009

CIVILIAN DEFENSE CONTRACTOR ORDERED HELD WITHOUT BOND PENDING TRIAL ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES

(HOUSTON) - A Seabrook resident has been ordered held in federal custody without bond pending his trial on charges of possessing child pornography, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Following a hearing held today, United States Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy ordered Michael Anthony Grabar, 44, of Seabrook, to be held in federal custody pending his trial on May 18, 2009, stating he was a danger to the community and also a risk of flight. 

The federal charges against Grabar are the result of an investigation conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Corpus Christi office and in Iraq initiated in May 2008 by KBR, Grabar’s then employer. During today’s hearing, testimony was presented to the court showing that on May 2, 2008, KBR security at Camp Fallujah, a U.S. Marine base in Iraq, was notified about a thumb drive found in laundry at the laundry facility.  KBR security officials retrieved and opened the thumb drive to identify the owner. According to the testimony today, security officials found documents allegedly belonging to Michael Grabar as well as what appeared to be images of child pornography.

KBR security then conducted a search of Grabar’s quarters and turned the investigation and computers and additional storage devices seized from his residence to NCIS special agents stationed at the marine base.

The seized computer media was sent to the Defense Computer Forensics Lab in the United States for analysis. According to the testimony presented today, that analysis resulted in the discovery of more than 500 images and 79 videos containing child pornography on the thumb drive and on a laptop computer taken from Grabar’s quarters.

In May 2008, Grabar worked as a forklift operator for a subsidiary of KBR at Camp Fallujah in Iraq. After the discovery of the images, Grabar was terminated and sent back to the United States.

In situations where a civilian is employed by or accompanying the Armed Forces outside the United States and allegedly commits what would be a federal crime, federal law allows for the prosecution of that individual in the district where he last lived. Grabar lived in Seabrook when he left for Iraq and was living at the same address when he was arrested. The U.S. Marshals Service in Houston assisted in the arrest.

Grabar faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment on the possession of child pornography charge and a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. If convicted, upon completion of any prison term imposed, Grabar also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe.

 

 

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