Baltimore, Maryland – Michael Dean Ragan, Jr., age 30, of Port Deposit, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to receipt of child pornography.
The guilty plea/sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Lisa Quinn of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office.
According to the plea agreement, on January 30, 2011, Ragan’s laptop computer, desktop computer, camera, hard drive and other digital media were seized by law enforcement during a search in an unrelated counterfeit currency investigation. Ragan later pleaded guilty to state counterfeit charges. A subsequent forensic examination of the items seized during the search found approximately 335 images and 17 videos of minors, including prepubescent minors, engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including acts of sadism, masochism of other depictions of violence.
In addition, a video was located on a seized DVD that depicted Ragan engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a minor male. According to the statement of facts, the video was taken without the knowledge of the minor male. Ragan admitted engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the minor male and also acknowledged being an administrator on a website dedicated to viewing, sharing and distributing child pornography. Ragan received a video on May 26, 2010, depicting two minor males engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
As part of his plea agreement, Ragan 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).
The sentencing range for receipt of child pornography is a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 in prison followed by up to lifetime of supervised release. Ragan and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Ragan will be sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by at least 20 years, but up to a lifetime of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for September 4, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Maryland State Police for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.
“This case was discovered and investigated by members of a joint Baltimore Police and FBI anti-corruption task force and re-emphasizes my commitment to rooting out corruption within the Baltimore Police Department," said Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts. My message to the people of our city is we are not finished - we will continue to relentlessly target corruption and misconduct among the ranks. A special note of thanks to all the police officers, agents and prosecutors for their assistance with this investigation and their continued support.”
According to the criminal complaint, on February 26, 2013, a confidential source provided information regarding alleged criminal activity being conducted by Baltimore Police officer Ashley Roane and her roommate Erica Hughes. The confidential source advised law enforcement that in the Fall of 2012, Roane had spoken to the source regarding drug trafficking and had told the source that if the source, whom Roane believed was a large scale heroin trafficker in Baltimore, wanted to sell drugs in the area where she patrolled, Roane would provide the source with a location that is not heavily concentrated with police. Additionally, Roane told that source that she could provide the source with information regarding police activity, specifically when and where drug search warrants would be executed.
The criminal complaint alleges that Roane provided assistance and protection to the confidential source in the source’s alleged drug trafficking. For example, on March 28, 2013, the criminal complaint alleges that Roane conducted a criminal check of one of the source’s alleged associates, to see if that person was an informant or cooperator with the Baltimore Police Department. According to the complaint, Roane agreed that she would tell the confidential source if the person were an informant so that the source would not engage in a drug transaction with that person. Further, the criminal complaint alleges on the on April 30, 2013, while in uniform, armed with her service firearm, and in a marked Baltimore Police Department vehicle, Roane provided protection while the confidential source conducted a narcotics transaction involving a kilogram of heroin. The confidential source allegedly paid Roane $500 for her protection and Roane agreed to provide such protection again in a future narcotics transaction involving multiple kilograms of heroin.
According to the criminal complaint, Hughes and Roane believed that the confidential source also worked as a tax preparer and they provided the personal information of more than 30 individuals, including names, dates of birth and social security numbers, to the confidential source to prepare and submit false tax returns to the IRS in order to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. The criminal complaint alleges that Roane obtained the personal information from law enforcement databases through her position as a Baltimore Police officer.
Roane faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin, and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Roane and Hughes face a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft. The defendants will be detained pending an initial appearance which will be scheduled for Monday, June 3, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Peter M. Nothstein, who is prosecuting the case.