Montgomery County Man Pleads Guilty to Distribution of Child Pornography
Violated His Pretrial Release by Obtaining a Computer and Distributing Child Pornography and Was Ordered to Be Detained Pending Sentencing.
Greenbelt, Maryland – Kevin Heiting, age 28, of Aspen Hill, Maryland, pleaded guilty on Friday, February 3, 2017, to distribution of child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS).
According to his plea agreement, on May 19, 2016, a federal search warrant was executed at Heiting’s residence in Silver Spring, Maryland, and law enforcement seized five hard drives, two laptop computers, a tower computer, and a cellular telephone. A forensic analysis of one of the seized hard drive revealed more than 17,913 video files and 405,071 image files, many of which depicted children, including infants and toddlers, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. A file sharing program found on Heiting’s computer revealed that Heiting shared over 100,000 files between June 8, 2014 and January 6, 2015. The analysis revealed that thousands of users connected to one of Heiting’s laptop computers and downloaded files. The analysis further showed that Heiting both received and distributed child pornography using the laptop computer.
The same afternoon that the search warrant was executed, Hieting purchased a new laptop computer. On August 4, 2016, Heiting traveled from Maryland to Central America with the laptop, which Heiting was using to run a file sharing program and to conduct online chats with minors. On Heiting’s return from Central America, the laptop was detained by officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and subsequently forensically examined. The analysis revealed that in addition to sharing and downloading child pornography, Heiting was communicating over the “dark web” using an encrypted web chat application, with a 14 year old boy. Enticed and persuaded by Heiting, the victim sent Heiting images of himself engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
On August 29, 2016, Heiting was indicted on federal child pornography charges and placed on pretrial release, with conditions which forbade Heiting from possessing internet capable devices. On February 1, 2017, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Heiting’s residence and recovered a laptop computer, two 5TB hard drives, and three USB thumb drives that had been hidden by Heiting in an air purifier cabinet. An initial forensic review of the laptop reveal that it contained a file sharing program and the encrypted deep web application that Heiting had previously used. The laptop computer had last been accessed on February 1, 2017.
As part of his plea agreement, Heiting will be required to register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Heiting and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Heiting will be sentenced to between 13 and 19 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for May 16, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. Heiting is detained.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore for its work in the investigation, and thanked the Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Atlanta, HSI Atlanta, and the FBI for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Baldwin and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Finocchiaro, who are prosecuting the federal case.