News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Former Social Security Employee Sentenced To Prison For Receipt Of Child Pornography

Viewed Child Pornography During the Work Day

July 30, 2013

A former employee of the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison for receipt of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  THOMAS JOSEPH BARRETT, 50, of Lynnwood, Washington pleaded guilty earlier this year following his arrest at work in January 2013.  The investigation revealed that BARRETT had accessed child pornography on both his work computer and at his home.  U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed a ten year term of supervised release to follow his prison term.

According to records 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.

Search warrants served at BARRETT’s home and work revealed he had accessed more than 3,500 images of child pornography.

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

The case was 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 criminal cases in federal court.

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