SBI arrests 3 on child pornography charges, announces AG Cooper
Release date: 7/28/2005
Wilmington: The State Bureau of Investigation today arrested three suspects in the Wilmington area on multiple felony counts of exploitation of children for possession and distribution of child pornography, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
William Patrick Michaels, age 24 of Wilmington, was arrested today at the Wilmington Police Department. He has been released on $50,000 bond.
Randy Carl Swope, age 53 of Rocky Point, was arrested today at his home and is being held in the New Hanover County Jail.
Duane Scott Smith, age 22 of Leland, was arrested today at his home and is being held in the New Hanover County Jail.
“Criminals who deal in child pornography exploit children and profit from their pain,” said Cooper. “We want child pornographers who think they can hide behind their computer to know that law enforcement is working to track them down and stop them.”
The arrests were made by the SBI along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department and the Wilmington Police Department operating as cybercrime and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces. The investigation stemmed from tips made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Michaels will be prosecuted by the New Hanover County District Attorney and will appear tomorrow in District Court. Swope and Smith will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of NC and will have their first court appearance on Monday in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.
Last month, the SBI carried out more than 50 search warrants statewide as part of a sweep to halt the spread of child pornography. That operation brought together 45 law enforcement agencies across the state and has yielded charges that will be prosecuted by local district attorneys and federal prosecutors. Already the searches have resulted in the arrests of more than a dozen suspects with several other cases pending forensic review of computer evidence seized by the SBI during the searches.
To help local law enforcement bust Internet pornographers and predators who try to exploit children, Cooper is asking legislators to expand the SBI Computer Crimes Unit that he helped create by adding four new field agents. The agents would partner with the ICAC Task Force, a nationwide network of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors dedicated to protecting children from online dangers. In addition, Cooper is seeking three more computer forensic experts to recover and analyze information from computers submitted to the SBI Crime Lab.