News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Federal Employee Charged With Accessing Child Pornography

Investigation Alleges Defendant Used Computer at Work to View Child Pornography

January 9, 2013

            An employee of the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with accessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  THOMAS JOSEPH BARRETT, 49, of Lynnwood, Washington was taken into custody at his place of work.  Search warrants were executed at his home and workplace.  BARRETT is employed as Senior Case Technician.  SSA immediately placed BARRETT on indefinite leave.  BARRETT will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:30 today. 

According to the complaint filed in the case, SSA obtained evidence of inappropriate internet use by BARRETT during work hours in November 2012 and immediately initiated an investigation.  The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) investigated BARRETT’s computer use, reviewing his internet history and examining his computer’s hard drive.  The analysis produced evidence that BARRETT had viewed child pornography using the computer.  In addition, some of the website analysis revealed that BARRETT had accessed news stories about the penalties for possessing and distributing child pornography.  According to SSA, SSA’s network and data were never compromised. 

            Accessing child pornography with intent to view is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

            The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

            The case is being investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security Investigation and the Washington State Patrol.

            The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson and Assistant United States Attorney Marci Ellsworth.  Mr. Wilkinson is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute cases in federal court.


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