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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Kansas

Monday, November 24, 2014

Smith County Man Sentenced To 14+ Years For Possessing, Distributing Child Pornography

WICHITA, KAN. - A Smith County, Kan., man who tried unsuccessfully to suppress evidence gathered by Internet provider AOL was sentenced Monday to 170 months in federal prison for possessing and sending child pornography, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Walter E. Ackerman, 56, Lebanon, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. At sentencing, prosecutors said Ackerman possessed more than 750 sexually explicit images of prepubescent children.

In his plea, he admitted using AOL email to send child pornography to another user. The child pornography was detected by AOL using an automated image detection and filtering process that scans for malware, viruses and illegal images such as child pornography. AOL sent the information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which in turn notified the Kansas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in the Wichita/Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit (EMCU).

Ackerman’s attorney moved to suppress the email evidence on the grounds that the evidence was obtained through an illegal search and seizure with AOL and NECMEC acting as government investigators without a search warrant. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren ruled that neither AOL nor NCMEC are state actors and the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure does not apply to them.

Grissom commended Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Kansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Wichita/Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hart for their work on the case.

Updated December 15, 2014