Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today and presented the City of Richland Police Department and the City of Kennewick Police Department with $154,668.21 in asset forfeiture equitable sharing funds.
The Richland Police Department is receiving $96,667.63 and the Kennewick Police Department is receiving $58,000.58 to be used for further law enforcement purposes. Richland Police Chief John Bruce accepted the funds on behalf of the Richland Police Department. Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenburg accepted the funds on behalf of the Kennewick Police Department. The two law enforcement agencies are members of the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and share the forfeiture funds as a result.
The asset forfeiture funds are the result of the United States’ seizure of assets from Dale Gordon Black of Kennewick, Washington. On December 18, 2018, Black pleaded guilty to three counts of Production of Child Pornography. On July 16, 2019, Senior United States District Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Black to a 30-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. The court ordered Black to forfeit $185,900 in cash and his Subaru Legacy, and to pay $19,150 in restitution and $305,000 in fines, $5,000 of which was imposed under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, on July 18, 2017, undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents downloaded a child pornography video from an Internet Protocol address that was traced to Black's residence using a peer-to-peer file sharing program.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and seized many electronic devices from Black’s residence. A forensic examination of Black’s electronic devices revealed child pornography images that he had produced. The images were of three children Black knew either as neighbors or through his work in a local youth mentoring program. Black produced the images at his house and on overnight trips he took alone with the children.
As part of the prosecution of Black, the United States seized, forfeited, and sold Black’s Subaru Legacy because he used it to transport his victims in furtherance of his child pornography production crimes. In addition, the United States forfeited $185,900 in cash from Black, which represented proceeds from the sale of the house where Black produced child pornography images. All of the forfeitures were approved and authorized by the court.
Pursuant to applicable regulations, an 80% share of the forfeiture proceeds from the forfeited cash and sale of Black’s vehicle are being shared with the Richland Police Department and Kennewick Police Department in recognition of their significant contributions to the investigation and prosecution of Dale Gordon Black. The shared asset forfeiture funds will assist these agencies in their further crime-fighting efforts.
The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program is, first and foremost, a law enforcement program. It removes the tools of crime from criminal organizations, deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes, recovers property that may be used to compensate victims, and deters crime. The Department of Justice emphasizes these law enforcement purposes with all federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
One of the ancillary benefits of asset forfeiture is sharing federal forfeiture proceeds with cooperating state and local law enforcement agencies through equitable sharing as is occurring here. The Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program enhances cooperation between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement by providing valuable additional resources to those law enforcement agencies.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Sexual predation and exploitation of children are heinous crimes. That Dale Black preyed on vulnerable children through his participation in a youth mentorship program make his crimes even more egregious. The children in our community are safer now that Black has been convicted of three serious felony child pornography offenses and removed from society and the ability to hurt others. The sentence imposed in this case, and the forfeiture of Black’s assets, serves as a stern warning to offenders that you will be held accountable for your actions.”
Hyslop further said, “Prosecuting those who would produce pornographic images of vulnerable minors is a high priority of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. The investigation resulting in Black’s conviction exemplifies the positive results that can be achieved when federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies collaborate and work together. I commend the dedicated work of all the law enforcement officers who investigated this case.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
- Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
- Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
- Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
- Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and,
- Community awareness and educational programs.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
The enforcement action resulting in this forfeiture was assisted by the ICAC Task Force. The ICAC Task Force is comprised of the Cities of Richland and Kennewick, Benton County, and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Seattle Office. The ICAC Task Force serves the public’s best interest by allowing these agencies to pool resources and knowledge to investigate, prosecute and deter the possession, production, and distribution of child pornography and the utilization of the internet to seek out children as sexual victims.
This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the ICAC Task Force, the Richland Police Department and the Kennewick Police Department.
This case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire and Brian M. Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.
More information regarding the DOJ Equitable Sharing Program can be found here: DOJ Guide to Equitable Sharing.