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Press Release

Former Federal Air Marshal And Border Patrol Agent Sentenced To Ninety Years’ Imprisonment For Sexual Exploitation Of Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Earlier today, Michael J. McGowan, a former Federal Air Marshal and Border Patrol Agent, was sentenced to 90 years’ incarceration for three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children. McGowan repeatedly sexually abused three boys over the course of four years between 2000 and 2004 and photographed the abuse. In 2005, McGowan was convicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York of one count of Attempting to Receive Child Pornography and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. In 2008, while serving his sentence, McGowan sought from prison to have the photographs destroyed, which led to their discovery and his current prosecution for Sexual Exploitation of Children.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John E. Dupuy, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security (OIG-DHS); and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.

“Michal J. McGowan, sexual predator of young boys for personal gratification, went so far as to use his position as a Federal Air Marshal to perpetrate his abuses. Moreover, his prior imprisonment did nothing to deter him from compounding his crimes by reaching out from prison in an attempt to subvert justice and destroy evidence,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “McGowan’s effective life sentence will ensure that no other child faces abuse at his hands and serves as a warning to those who would commit such crimes that they will be pursued, prosecuted, and prevented from continuing to endanger our most precious resource.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their outstanding assistance in this investigation.

The initial charges against McGowan arose out of a 2004 United States Postal Inspection Service sting operation in which he ordered child pornography via computer to be delivered to him at his residence in Hicksville, New York. On June 30, 2004, a search warrant was executed at his residence, at which time McGowan claimed to have been investigating child pornography cases in his capacity as a Federal Air Marshal. McGowan was arrested on July 21, 2004, after an analysis of his computer revealed in excess of 1,300 images and videos of child pornography, predominantly of boys between the ages of 10 and 15 years’ old, engaged in sexual activity with other boys and adult males. McGowan pleaded guilty in United States District Court on July 11, 2005 to Attempted Receipt of Child Pornography.

Prior to imposition of sentence for the 2004 child pornography offense, McGowan contacted a then 15-year-old boy via telephone and mail from jail and engaged in a sexual conversation with the boy. The boy later disclosed to federal investigators that McGowan had abused him on a number of occasions when he was 13 years’ old, in Corpus Christi, Texas, where McGowan previously resided. In 2006, following the disclosure of this molestation, as well as McGowan’s calls and letters from jail to the boy, McGowan was sentenced by United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein to 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by lifetime supervised release.

On November 27, 2008, while housed at the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, North Carolina, McGowan wrote a letter to a second victim, a then 18-year-boy, requesting him to recover and destroy a hard drive containing child pornography which McGowan had hidden behind a sheetrock wall at his Hicksville residence. This effort was discovered by Bureau of Prisons personnel, and the boy was interviewed. During the course of the interview, the boy admitted that McGowan had molested him from ages 10 to 14 years’ old, and further led OIG-DHS and HSI investigators to seize the hidden hard drive. Upon examination, the hard drive was found to contain in excess of 1,000 images of child pornography, including images of children as young as five-years-old engaged in sexual conduct, as well as images of McGowan molesting three boys, ages 11 to 13. Several of the photographs were taken in hotel rooms that McGowan had access to as a result of his work as a Federal Air Marshal. Also recovered was a VHS videotape which depicted an unidentified minor boy engaged in sexual activities filmed by McGowan.

Following McGowan’s return to the Eastern District of New York to face the current charges, he repeatedly attempted to obstruct justice by sending threatening letters to one of the victims depicted in the child pornography that McGowan created.

On September 20, 2011, McGowan pleaded guilty to three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children. Today’s sentence of 90 years’ imprisonment will be served consecutive to the remaining term of the 20 year sentence McGowan is currently serving. The sentencing proceeding was held before Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Allen Bode.

The Defendant:


Age: 41

Hicksville, New York

Corpus Christi, Texas

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 09-653(SJF)

Updated July 2, 2015