Monday, January 26, 2009

More FBI agents posting bogus links and entrapping people

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So what's next? Posting links to illegal drugs, prostitutes, etc? I would not doubt it.  So I guess, if I renamed a video on my YouTube channel, and called it "13 year old strips naked," and someone clicks it, I can report them to the FBI?  If that is the case, then I'm sure a lot of people will be in prison very soon.... So all you anti-pedo vigilantes, including Perverted-Justice, you better watch out, or we may see your ugly faces on the registry soon!


The FBI has recently adopted a novel investigative technique: posting hyperlinks that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.

Undercover FBI agents used this hyperlink-enticement technique, which directed Internet users to a clandestine government server, to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada last year. The supposed video files actually were gibberish and contained no illegal images.

A CNET review of legal documents shows that courts have approved of this technique, even though it raises questions about entrapment, the problems of identifying who's using an open wireless connection--and whether anyone who clicks on a FBI link that contains no child pornography should be automatically subject to a dawn raid by federal police.

Roderick Vosburgh, a doctoral student at Temple University who also taught history at La Salle University, was raided at home in February 2007 after he allegedly clicked on the FBI's hyperlink. Federal agents knocked on the door around 7 a.m., falsely claiming they wanted to talk to Vosburgh about his car. Once he opened the door, they threw him to the ground outside his house and handcuffed him.

Vosburgh was charged with violating federal law, which criminalizes "attempts" to download child pornography with up to 10 years in prison. Last November, a jury found Vosburgh guilty on that count, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 22, at which point Vosburgh could face three to four years in prison.

The implications of the FBI's hyperlink-enticement technique are sweeping. Using the same logic and legal arguments, federal agents could send unsolicited e-mail messages to millions of Americans advertising illegal narcotics or child pornography--and raid people who click on the links embedded in the spam messages. The bureau could register the "" domain name and prosecute intentional visitors. And so on.

"The evidence was insufficient for a reasonable jury to find that Mr. Vosburgh specifically intended to download child pornography, a necessary element of any 'attempt' offense," Vosburgh's attorney, Anna Durbin of Ardmore, Penn., wrote in a court filing that is attempting to overturn the jury verdict before her client is sentenced.

In a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Durbin added: "I thought it was scary that they could do this. This whole idea that the FBI can put a honeypot out there to attract people is kind of sad. It seems to me that they've brought a lot of cases without having to stoop to this."

Durbin did not want to be interviewed more extensively about the case because it is still pending; she's waiting for U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage to rule on her motion. Unless he agrees with her and overturns the jury verdict, Vosburgh--who has no prior criminal record--will be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years and will be effectively barred from continuing his work as a college instructor after his prison sentence ends.

How the hyperlink sting operation worked
The government's hyperlink sting operation worked like this: FBI Special Agent Wade Luders disseminated links to the supposedly illicit porn on an online discussion forum called Ranchi, which Luders believed was frequented by people who traded underage images. One server allegedly associated with the Ranchi forum was, which is now offline with a message attributing the closure to "non-ethical" activity.

In October 2006, Luders posted a number of links purporting to point to videos of child pornography, and then followed up with a second, supposedly correct link 40 minutes later. All the links pointed to, according to a bureau affidavit, a "covert FBI computer in San Jose, California, and the file located therein was encrypted and non-pornographic."

Excerpt from an FBI affidavit filed in the Nevada case showing how the hyperlink-sting was conducted.

Some of the links, including the supposedly correct one, included the hostname is hosted by, which provides dynamic domain name service to customers for $15 a year.

When anyone visited the site, the FBI recorded the Internet Protocol address of the remote computer. There's no evidence the referring site was recorded as well, meaning the FBI couldn't tell if the visitor found the links through Ranchi or another source such as an e-mail message.

With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids.

Excerpt from FBI affidavit in Nevada case that shows visits to the hyperlink-sting site.

The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements.

While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant.

The defendant in that case, Travis Carter, suggested that any of the neighbors could be using his wireless network. (The public defender's office even sent out an investigator who confirmed that dozens of homes were within Wi-Fi range.)

But the magistrate judge ruled that even the possibilities of spoofing or other users of an open Wi-Fi connection "would not have negated a substantial basis for concluding that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of child pornography would be found on the premises to be searched." Translated, that means the search warrant was valid.

Entrapment: Not a defense
So far, at least, attorneys defending the hyperlink-sting cases do not appear to have raised unlawful entrapment as a defense.

"Claims of entrapment have been made in similar cases, but usually do not get very far," said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at George Washington University's law school. "The individuals who chose to log into the FBI sites appear to have had no pressure put upon them by the government...It is doubtful that the individuals could claim the government made them do something they weren't predisposed to doing or that the government overreached."

The outcome may be different, Saltzburg said, if the FBI had tried to encourage people to click on the link by including misleading statements suggesting the videos were legal or approved.

In the case of Vosburgh, the college instructor who lived in Media, Penn., his attorney has been left to argue that "no reasonable jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Vosburgh himself attempted to download child pornography."

Vosburgh faced four charges: clicking on an illegal hyperlink; knowingly destroying a hard drive and a thumb drive by physically damaging them when the FBI agents were outside his home; obstructing an FBI investigation by destroying the devices; and possessing a hard drive with two grainy thumbnail images of naked female minors (the youths weren't having sex, but their genitalia were visible).

The judge threw out the third count and the jury found him not guilty of the second. But Vosburgh was convicted of the first and last counts, which included clicking on the FBI's illicit hyperlink.

In a legal brief filed on March 6, his attorney argued that the two thumbnails were in a hidden "thumbs.db" file automatically created by the Windows operating system. The brief said that there was no evidence that Vosburgh ever viewed the full-size images--which were not found on his hard drive--and the thumbnails could have been created by receiving an e-mail message, copying files, or innocently visiting a Web page.

From the FBI's perspective, clicking on the illicit hyperlink and having a thumbs.db file with illicit images are both serious crimes. Federal prosecutors wrote: "The jury found that defendant knew exactly what he was trying to obtain when he downloaded the hyperlinks on Agent Luder's Ranchi post. At trial, defendant suggested unrealistic, unlikely explanations as to how his computer was linked to the post. The jury saw through the smokes (sic) and mirrors, as should the court."

And, as for the two thumbnail images, prosecutors argued (note that under federal child pornography law, the definition of "sexually explicit conduct" does not require that sex acts take place):

The first image depicted a pre-pubescent girl, fully naked, standing on one leg while the other leg was fully extended leaning on a desk, exposing her genitalia... The other image depicted four pre-pubescent fully naked girls sitting on a couch, with their legs spread apart, exposing their genitalia. Viewing this image, the jury could reasonably conclude that the four girls were posed in unnatural positions and the focal point of this picture was on their genitalia.... And, based on all this evidence, the jury found that the images were of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and certainly did not require a crystal clear resolution that defendant now claims was necessary, yet lacking.

Prosecutors also highlighted the fact that Vosburgh visited the "loli-chan" site, which has in the past featured a teenage Webcam girl holding up provocative signs (but without any nudity).

Civil libertarians warn that anyone who clicks on a hyperlink advertising something illegal--perhaps found while Web browsing or received through e-mail--could face the same fate.

When asked what would stop the FBI from expanding its hyperlink sting operation, Harvey Silverglate, a longtime criminal defense lawyer in Cambridge, Mass. and author of a forthcoming book on the Justice Department, replied: "Because the courts have been so narrow in their definition of 'entrapment,' and so expansive in their definition of 'probable cause,' there is nothing to stop the Feds from acting as you posit."

NC - Ex-New Hanover deputy guilty in sex case

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And another perverted cop to be added to the growing list.


By Shelby Sebens - Staff Writer

Bolivia - A former New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Monday to a sexual offense against his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.

Jarmal Flood, 37, has spent more than a year in the Brunswick County Jail on charges of second-degree rape and second-degree sex offense. He pleaded guilty Monday in Brunswick County Superior Court, the day a jury was supposed to be selected for his trial, to two counts of sex offense by a substitute parent, a lesser charge.
- Of  course he pleads to a lesser charge, he's a cop, and we all know, they get special treatment!

Flood was sentenced to up to 5.25 years in prison but was given credit for time served, and the rest was suspended, meaning he will be processed by the Department of Correction and released on three years of supervised probation.
- This is just total BS!  The average citizen does not get this kind of special treatment.  More of the "Good Ole' Boys" club BS for you!

Flood was a sheriff’s deputy from December 1999 to August 2004, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 19, 2007, Flood raped and molested his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter in their Leland home, Assistant District Attorney Meredith Everhart said during the plea hearing. Because Flood was living with the woman, he could be considered a substitute parent, she added.

The victim was not in court but submitted an impact statement, which Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis read to herself. The judge asked if the victim ever had counseling, and Everhart replied no.

“I’m very concerned about that,” Lewis said, ordering that the Department of Social Services be notified to investigate.

Flood’s attorney, Brian Moore, said his client has had a difficult time in the Brunswick County jail, where he spent his sentence in isolation because he is former law enforcement officer. He also told the judge Flood has no prior record and subdued an inmate a couple weeks ago who had stolen a deputy’s taser weapon.
- Awww, did he get lonely?  Why did they not put him in with the general population?  More preferential treatment!

In addition to his probation, Flood must register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victim or her family or children under the age of 18.

That means Flood cannot have contact with three of his four children unless a District Court judges gives him permission, Lewis said.

Flood’s mother, Lynda Flood, told Lewis after the hearing that her son would be living with her in Rocky Point and that she has seven grandchildren. She said it would be difficult and unfair for Jarmal Flood not to have contact with them.

But Lewis did not change her mind.

“It is what it is. There are no exceptions to the rule,” she said.
- Yeah right, he's a cop, and gets special treatment, I'd call that an exception to the rule!

Flood left the courtroom in tears and declined to comment.
- Welcome to the club Mr. Flood!  I'm sure you harassed and hated sex offenders, until you became one!

TX - Former Montague County sheriff admits to sexually assaulting woman

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And yet another perverted cop to the GROWING list.


By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

The former sheriff of Montague County has admitted to sexually assaulting a woman after promising her he wouldn’t arrest her when deputies found drug paraphernalia in her house.

Bill Keating, whose term as sheriff ended Jan.1, agreed Friday to plead guilty to a federal charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law after he confessed to authorities that he had forced the woman to give him oral sex following a drug raid on Nov. 14, 2008.

Keating is expected to turn himself in at a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Thursday before Magistrate Judge R. Kerry Roach in Wichita Falls. His attorney, Mark Daniel of Fort Worth, declined to comment Monday.
- Hell, go arrest him and throw him in jail, like you would any other non-police who did the same!

The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating further allegations of sexual misconduct by Keating and other former Montague County employees at the jail, and state charges could result, officials said.

“The citizens of the county will be chagrined at what’s going to be shown,” said Montague County District Attorney Jack McGaughey. He said by mid-February he expects to have secured indictments against the former sheriff as well as up to a dozen former jail personnel and prisoners alleging sexual misconduct inside the jail.

According to court papers filed Monday, on the morning of Nov. 14, Keating and some of his deputies executed an arrest warrant at a home occupied by a woman and her boyfriend.

Keating, wearing civilian clothes but with his gun and badge on his belt, entered the bedroom and found the couple sleeping. Deputies found paraphernalia used to make methamphetamine, and traces of what appeared to be meth in a plastic container.

Keating directed his deputies to arrest the boyfriend, then ordered another deputy to leave the bedroom.

You are about to be my new best friend,” he told the woman after she had gotten dressed and he had closed the door, according to court documents.

He told the woman that he found illegal drugs in her house and that “in order to avoid going to jail, she would be required to ‘assist’ him,” or perform oral sex on him, court documents state.

Keating told the woman that “if she complied… he would assist her in obtaining a job, a place to live and she would not be criminally charged with possessing any drugs or drug making equipment that was found within the residence,” court documents state.

If she did not comply, “she would go straight to jail,” court documents state.

Keating then took the woman to his personal vehicle, which was parked outside. He drove her to a secluded area off a farm to market road and parked.

He unzipped his pants, instructed [the victim] to perform oral sex on him, and grabbed the back of her neck and pushed her head down into his lap causing her pain and bodily injury,” court papers state.

The sheriff later admitted to federal authorities that he had the woman perform oral sex on him “on multiple occasions” and agree to be a Montague County sheriff’s department informant.

If convicted of the federal charge, Keating faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

“What a jerk,” said Paul Cunningham, who replaced Keating as sheriff this year, after learning the specifics of the federal charge Monday afternoon. “There ain’t no other way to put it.”


Just because someone commits a crime, doesn't give the government the right to do anything they wish to that person!


Maybe you’ve seen one of the news stories about the revised Georgia statute (Georgia Code § 41-1-12) that now requires sex offenders to turn their Internet passwords, screen names and email addresses over to authorities. The purpose of the revised statute is to give authorities the ability to track what sex offenders are doing online, to, in the words of one news story, “make sure” they “aren’t stalking children online or chatting with them about off-limits topics.”

Critics of the law say it goes too far, since it will let law enforcement agents read emails a sex offender sends to anyone, including family and employers. The state senator who wrote and sponsored the legislation revising the statute concedes that it does, at least to some extent, invade the privacy of those to whom it applies. But he also says they have forfeited their privacy rights by having been convicted of a sex crime and argues that the need to protect children outweighs any privacy concerns.

Georgia is apparently one of a very few (two?) states that have expanded their sex offender registry requirements to include passwords, usernames and email addresses. The first state to do this seems to be Utah, which adopted legislation requiring sex offenders to “provide Utah's sex offender registry with all of their internet identifiers and the websites on which they use those identifiers.” Doe v. Shurtleff, 2008 WL 4427594 (U.S. District Court for the District of Utah 2008). A man affected by this legislation filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. He argued that it violated his First Amendment right to free speech, which includes a right to be able to speak anonymously.

The Utah statute required that sex offenders provide the following to the Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC):

(i) Internet identifiers and the addresses the offender uses for routing or self-identification in Internet communications or postings; [and]

(j) the name and Internet address of all websites on which the sex offender is registered using an online identifier, including all online identifiers and passwords used to access those websites. . . .

Utah Code§ 77-27-21.5(12). A related statute required them also to give the UDOC “any password required for use with an online identifier.” Utah Code § 77-27-21.5(2)(c). It defined “online identifier” as “any electronic mail, chat, instant messenger, social networking, or similar name used for Internet communication.”

Doe, who was challenging the Utah statute, made a number of First Amendment arguments, but the federal judge to whom the case was assigned found that his “most compelling” argument was that the Utah statutes abridged his First Amendment right to speak anonymously online. Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. In analyzing this argument, she noted that there were no opinions dealing with this issue; there were, of course, opinions dealing with challenges to different aspects of sex offender registry statutes, but not this particular issue. So the judge was, as she noted, “in wholly untested legal waters.” Doe v. Shurtleff, supra.

She therefore relied on Supreme Court dealing generally with the right to anonymous speech, one of which was McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995). In McIntyre, the Court explained that

[a]nonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation-and their ideas from suppression-at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

The Utah judge noted that the Supreme Court has also recognized “the importance and unique nature of the Internet as a virtual `marketplace of ideas.” Doe v. Shurtleff, supra (quoting Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997)). And she pointed out, quite correctly, that courts have combined these two principles to hold that the First Amendment protects anonymous online speech. Doe v. Shurtleff, supra.

The defendants in the Utah case (who included the Utah Attorney General) did not

directly challenge the right to anonymous speech online. Instead, they contend that because he is a sex offender, Mr. Doe has relinquished that right. Defendants cite cases in various other contexts that have approved curtailing the constitutional rights of sex offenders and felons. Defendants do not cite any authority, however, supporting the proposition that a sex offender who has completed his prison term and is not on parole or probation gives up First Amendment rights.

Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. So they made the same argument the sponsor of the Georgia legislation is making as to why that statute is not unconstitutional.

The judge disagreed. After reviewing cases, she found that

Mr. Doe has not given up his right to anonymous internet speech because of his status as a sex offender. . . . First, the United States Supreme Court has held that even people in custody have First Amendment rights, although restrictions on those rights are scrutinized under a low standard. . . Second, the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit] has ruled that a complete, unconditional ban on internet access as a condition of supervised release is overly broad and impermissible.

Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. The Utah judge found that the fact Doe, the plaintiff in the case, retained his First Amendment right to anonymous speech was “bolstered by the fact that Mr. Doe is not on parole or subject to supervised release.” Doe v. Shurtleff, supra.

She also found that the Utah statutes infringed on his right to anonymous speech: “If Mr. Doe provides the UDOC with his Internet information and knows that there are no statutory limits on how that information can be used by the UDOC, or others, he is less likely to engage in protected anonymous speech.” Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. The judge then had to decide if the infringement violated the First Amendment. Georgia Code § 41-1-12(o). That might open the statute up to a challenge based on the holding in the Doe v. Shurtleff case.

The infringement would NOT violate the First Amendment if (i) it was being imposed to protect a compelling government interest and (ii) it was the least restrictive means available to accomplish that end. Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. The judge found it was not:

Utah undoubtedly has a compelling interest in protecting children from internet predators and investigating online crimes, which are the stated goals of the Registry Statute. The Registry Statute appears to achieve these ends. For example, if the UDOC makes sex offenders' internet information immediately available to investigators, investigations into potential crimes originating online could be hastened. Moreover, knowing that police will have their internet information would probably discourage some sex offenders from using the internet to help them commit crimes.

The only question is whether the Registry Statute's disclosure requirements are the least restrictive means available to meet these goals. They are not. With no restrictions on how the UDOC can use or disseminate registrants' internet information, the Registry Statute implicates protected speech and criminal activity alike. An alternative statute that contained such restrictions would be similarly effective and less threatening to protected anonymous speech.

Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. The defendants asked the judge to interpret the statutes as only letting the UDOC use the Internet information a registrant provided for the purpose of conducting criminal investigations and as barring the UDOC from releasing it to the public. Doe v. Shurtleff, supra. She found that doing this would in effect require her to re-write the statute, which was a job for the Utah legislature. The judge therefore held that the Utah statute violated the First Amendment.

Would a court reach the same conclusion as to the revised Georgia statute? I don’t know. The Georgia statute says the information collected pursuant to its requirements “shall be treated as private data” except that it can be disclosed to law enforcement agencies to law enforcement purposes or to agencies conducting background checks. Those don’t seem particularly problematic. It also says that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation “or any sheriff maintaining” records under this legislation shall, in addition to informing the public about sex offenders living in their community, “release such other relevant information collected under this section that is necessary to protect the public concerning sexual offenders”.

MO - Ex-Collins mayor to go to sex-offender program

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Amazing... When it's just Joe Public, they are sentenced to prison and must get sex offender treatment, in most cases. But here, because he is an ex-mayor, he is getting an evaluation first to determine his sentence. Once again, special treatment!  He should be treated like anybody else, who committed the same crime.


NEOSHO - A former Southwest Missouri mayor who pleaded guilty to a felony sexual misconduct charge will be sent to a state sex-offender assessment program to determine whether he should receive a prison sentence of probation, Newton County Presiding Judge Timothy Perigo decided Friday.

During a sentencing hearing Friday morning, Perigo decided Allen Kauffman, former mayor of Collins, Mo., would be sent to the sex-offender assessment unit at Farmington Correctional Center. The 120-day program assesses community risks and sex-offender treatment needs. The results of the program will be forwarded to the court, which will then determine Kauffman’s sentence.
- The average citizen is sentenced first, without any regard to this.  Yet here we have special treatment, simply because of who he is/was!

Kauffman was netted in Internet stings conducted in both Newton and Cole counties. In Newton County, Kauffman was arrested in January for approaching a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl on the Internet and making sexual advances. In reality, Kauffman was chatting with Jim

Murray, a detective with the Diamond Police Department, who was conducting an on-line training session for a member of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

At the same time, Dobbs said, Kauffman was chatting with a Cole County officer, whom he thought was an underage girl. During a July preliminary hearing in Cole County, Kauffman pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual misconduct with someone younger than 15. In August, he was given a suspended prison sentence and placed on five years probation, ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, and ordered not to use the Internet.

CA - Sex Offenders' GPS Monitoring Devices Not a Silver Bullet, States Say

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I think if they would've listened to experts, then they would've told them this a long time ago.  Someone always wants a magic bullet, or magic pill to cure everything.


By Jim McKay

GPS monitoring -- embraced as a simple technological solution for tracking the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders -- is proving to be something less than a silver bullet for state and local public safety agencies.

Convinced that GPS monitoring was the answer to the sex offender problem, judges and lawmakers began mandating the technology for high-profile parolees. Beginning in 2005, the technology was widely deployed as means to ensure that offenders complied with the terms of their release, such as staying a safe distance from schools or a victim's home.

Monitoring systems typically consist of a GPS receiver/portable tracking device, radio frequency transmitter, stationary charging unit, cellular telephone and computer software to review GPS data. The devices allow officials to track the parolees' whereabouts -- when everything works properly and when offender cooperates.

But there are problems with the way the technology is used and monitored. False alarms number in the thousands in some jurisdictions, straining manpower and casting doubt on the viability of GPS as a tracking tool for high-profile felons.

In Arizona, a 2007 legislative study found more than 35,000 false alerts by 140 subjects wearing the GPS-monitoring devices.

In California, the percentage of transient parolees, those who've been declared homeless, has increased by 900 percent since a law was passed that included GPS as part of the solution. Now, officials say, they're guessing about where the offenders are because more have become transient and the GPS monitoring can be unreliable, especially when the offenders lack real housing where they can charge the devices.

And in Connecticut, officials are pushing for a state-run monitoring facility to keep track of offenders being monitored by GPS after numerous false alarms involving several subjects, including one whose case prompted action.

Though public safety officials typically agree that GPS is a valuable tool, they say it's not a replacement for personal contact with the subject, his co-workers, family and friends that keeps the offender honest.

Released, Arrested, Released
Connecticut's move for a proposed monitoring facility resulted from a recent re-arrest of a sex offender.

After serving 24 years in prison for multiple sexual assaults, David Pollitt was released and put on probation in September 2007. Pollitt was confined to his sister's residence and required to wear a GPS anklet that tracked his whereabouts. In September 2008, Pollitt was re-arrested after allegedly violating conditions of his parole by leaving the property.

However, Pollitt and his lawyer contended that the GPS unit provided a false alert. In fact, they contend that during the one-year period after Pollitt's release, the unit sent more than 40 false alarms.

Pro Tech Monitoring Inc., a subcontractor for G4S Justice Services, eventually wrote a letter to the court that said it couldn't say conclusively that Pollitt had left the property, according to Pollitt's lawyer, John Kaloidis. Two days after Pollitt's arrest, the warrant was withdrawn.

"A tech went to the home where my client is and said there was a problem with the device," Kaloidis said. "[The signal] bounces off cell phone towers, and there are certain points it can bounce off. It didn't find the street where my client was and bounced him to the next street over."

Pro Tech didn't return phone calls and e-mails to discuss the case.

There were also other problems with the tracking device and its monitoring that added up to the false alerts.

Once, Pollitt was plotted on GPS to have been more than 400 feet from his residence at 12:59 p.m. Just seconds later, he was plotted at the residence, according to a report by the Court Support Services Division of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

"It would happen in the middle of the night when he was sleeping," Kaloidis said. "The family had to put the phone near his bed because they were tired of being awakened by probation officers saying, ‘Dave, where the hell are you?'"

The tracking device assigned to Pollitt is a two-piece unit consisting of a transmitter (a battery-operated GPS device worn on the ankle) that emits a radio signal to a portable-tracking device (PTD), a small box that's worn on the offender's waist. The PTD receives radio signals and position information from the GPS device through satellites. The PTD transmits location information to a monitoring station in real time through a cell phone.

Pollitt's unit was programmed to sound an alarm if he ventured outside the vicinity -- a Pro Tech representative marks the property's perimeter into the PTD to program the area in which the parolee is required to remain.

The subject is responsible for wearing the PTD on his belt and for keeping batteries in the transmitter. A dead battery or putting the PTD in a pants pocket would send an alert. Bill Carbone, executive director of the Connecticut Supreme Court Services, said those issues could have caused some of the alarms. "But I don't think you can just point to the one area where he wasn't wearing the unit in the place where you get the best service. This happened a lot of times."

Kaloidis said the devices might not have been programmed correctly. "I think when they went to the house they didn't properly calibrate the machine," Kaloidis said. "The four corners of the property weren't marked."

Then there was what Carbone characterized as impermissible actions by Pro Tech staff. "I would call it unacceptable that we would get a verbal then a written response [confirming that Pollitt had left the property], then two days later have the company reverse it," he said.

A Connecticut Court Support Services report acknowledged a general misconception about GPS and sex offender supervision, and frustration for law enforcement officials who must deal with voluminous false alerts.

The report acknowledged that probation officers' work hours don't extend into the nighttime and weekends, and probation officers must respond to alerts while off duty. If the officer is out of cellular range or not near a computer, he or she may be unable to review the tracking data.

The report recommends assigning a secondary officer to high-profile cases to cover for the primary officer when he or she is unavailable. It also recommended a monitoring center to screen GPS and electronic-monitoring data and alerts at all times.

"We are determined to have some sort of call center in Connecticut that will monitor the offenders, receive the initial alert and serve as a screen prior to the officer knowing about the alert so they aren't bothered on a 24-hour basis," Carbone said, acknowledging the obvious waste of manpower spent tracking false alerts.

Understanding its Limitations
All sources interviewed for this story said GPS is a legitimate tool for law enforcement, but its limitations must be understood, and it must be used correctly. "It's got to be centered in the context of all the other information available to the officer, including the reports from treatment, family and so forth," Carbone said.

Policymakers should understand that having a GPS device on subjects doesn't mean they're monitored all the time. "A lot of people think if you're on GPS somebody is sitting at a computer and they know your whereabouts all the time," Carbone said. "They're not aware of the influence of weather and other interferences with the system and the cell tower issues."

The Connecticut Court Support Services report noted that in an ideal environment GPS can be very accurate, but in difficult topography or in bad weather, tracking errors and signal loss can disrupt accuracy and consistency.

California relies heavily on GPS monitoring, despite the false alarms and failures, since a new law was put into effect that tries to keep sex offenders away from schools.

Jessica's Law prohibits convicted sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park. In November 2008, an appeals court ruled that the law amounts to additional punishment, although the law was left in effect for the time being.

Critics contend that the law is making sex offenders harder to track because some, either intentionally or not, are becoming homeless.

And the trouble with homeless sex offenders is there may be nowhere to recharge the unit's batteries. "GPS units need to be plugged into a wall," said Robert Coombs, director of public affairs for the California Sex Offender Management Board. "So it is a real problem that these guys have gone transient, and unless we let them into our public libraries or Starbucks or any other place where they can plug in, we're not going to be able to maintain this problem."

Before the 2008 law passed, 88 registered sex offenders were homeless. That number has risen to more than 1,000 since then, and it's because the law focuses on GPS, Coombs said.

Officials say the offenders are being tracked with the GPS, but critics say that's not enough. "Those of us who work with victims and offenders know that just because you know where a guy is, doesn't mean you know what he is doing," Coombs said. And that's assuming the devices are working correctly, and they sometimes don't, he said.

"This is actually the melding of two technologies," Coombs said. "One is GPS, which is essentially getting that signal from satellites, and the other is cellular technology, which is then transferring that data to the nearest cell phone tower. The weaknesses of those two technologies are compounded by bringing the two together."

Coombs said parolees can venture out of the satellites' range by entering buildings or a dense urban location. "Places like schools, hospitals, government buildings," he said. "You walk into the Capitol building here in Sacramento (Calif.) and you lose satellite reception."

Coombs said there have been instances in California where an offender was on a train or bus heading to a mandated treatment facility and his satellite reception was lost.

Additionally the offender is counted on to charge the device's batteries and make sure he's wearing it on his belt and not in his pocket. "These are folks who we've already identified as having trouble following rules or schedules," Coombs said. "They may intentionally fail, because by not charging it, they know they're not being tracked. ‘If I don't charge this thing for two hours, there's no evidence of where I've been.'"

It's a Fad?
Sources said policymakers have made promises about the technology that won't hold up. "In our business, they invent these things, they advertise and the attorney sells the judge, ‘Rather than put my client in jail, put him on the GPS,"' said Mike Goss, deputy chief of the Maricopa County, Ariz., Adult Probation Department. "It's a snazzy thing; it's become sort of a fad."

In Washington state, there has been resistance to GPS monitoring. In 2006, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs opposed proposed legislation -- which passed -- to expand the use of GPS because of experiences with faulty readings when offenders move inside steel buildings, tunnels or outside when it's snowing, according to Don Pierce, the association's executive director.

"We believed, and still believe, that GPS monitoring should be used when it's appropriate and not simply across the board," Pierce said. "We were concerned, and still are, that GPS monitoring is viewed as a panacea and will prevent future crime. It isn't, and it won't."

The belief that GPS monitoring could replace any other types of supervision, such as visits from the probation officer, conversations with family, counselors and so on, is a dangerous one. "It's best used as a corroboration tool," Coombs said. "When you have a routine parole meeting and the guy says, ‘Well, I haven't been in a certain location,' [such as an exclusion zone] you can verify that."

But the technology won't keep people out of trouble if they're prone to trouble. "It's only as good as the approach used to implement it," Coombs said. "If you think the technology is going to protect children because [the offender] can't go near schools, then you forget that children exist in places other than schools."

Arizona eschewed the two-piece units in favor of a one-piece device and has had fewer false alarms, Goss said. "Now, the one piece that straps on the leg is a real small unit and it's all self-contained."

In late 2008, Rhode Island was about to launch a GPS-monitoring program that might be more accurate than technology being used now. It was pioneered by a local private company.

The consensus is that GPS has a role, but its limitations must be understood. "There's a very legitimate and important role for GPS, but it's one tool in the toolbox," Carbone said. "Policymakers need to be better informed so there's not a rush to use GPS because they think it's like LoJack."

Internet Filters: Voluntary OK, Not Government Mandate

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Don't believe the hype

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Related - 50,000 Online Predators


Despite being the safest and healthiest humans to have lived, we allow 'experts' to scare us witless, says Dan Gardner.

'Recent figures suggest some 50,000 pedophiles are prowling the internet at any one time," says the website of Innocence in Danger, a non-government organisation based in Switzerland. No source is cited for the claim, which appears under the headline "Some terryfying [sic] statistics".

It is indeed a terrifying statistic. It is also well-travelled. It has been cited in Britain, Canada, the US, and points beyond. Like a new strain of the flu, it has spread from newspaper articles to TV reports to public speakers, websites, blogs, and countless conversations of frightened parents. It even infected Alberto Gonzales, the former US attorney-general.

Unfortunately, the mere fact that a number has proliferated, even at the highest levels of officialdom, does not demonstrate the number is true.

There's one obvious reason to be at least a little suspicious. It's a round number. A very round number. It's not 47,000 or 53,500. It's 50,000. And 50,000 is just the sort of perfectly round number people pluck out of the air when they make a wild guess.

And what method aside from wild guessing could one use to come up with the number of pedophiles online? Accurate counts of ordinary internet users are tough enough. But pedophiles? Much as one may wish they were all identified and registered with the authorities, they aren't, and they aren't likely to be completely frank about their inclinations when a phone surveyor calls to ask about online sexual habits.

Another reason for caution is the way this alleged fact changes from one telling to another. Britain's Independent states there are "as many as" 50,000 pedophiles online. Other sources say there are precisely 50,000. A few claim "at least" 50,000.

There's also variation in what those pedophiles are supposed to be up to. In some stories, the pedophiles are merely "online" and the reader is left to assume they are doing something other than getting the latest headlines or paying the water bill. Others say the pedophiles are "looking for children".

In the most precise account, all 50,000 pedophiles are said to have "one goal in mind: to find a child, strike up a relationship and eventually meet with the child". This spectacular feat of mind-reading can be found on the website of Spectorsoft, a company that sells frightened parents software that monitors their children's online activities for the low cost of $US99.95 ($105).

Then there is the supposed arena in which those 50,000 pedophiles are said to be operating. In some versions, it's 50,000 around the world, or on the whole of the internet. But an American blogger narrowed that considerably: "50,000 pedophiles at any one time are on and other social networking sites looking for kids".

And a story in the magazine Dallas Child quotes two parent-activists - identified as "California's Parents of the Year for 2001" - who say, "The internet is a wonderful tool, but it can also be an evil one, especially sites like At any one given time, 50,000 pedophiles are on the site."

All this should have our inner sceptic ringing alarm bells. But there is a final, critical question to be answered before we can dismiss this number as junk: what is its source? In most of the number's appearances, no source is cited. The author simply uses the passive voice ("It is estimated that … ") to paper over this gaping hole. Another way to achieve the same effect - one used far too often in newspapers - is to simply quote an official who states the number as fact.

The number then takes on the credibility of the official even though the reader still doesn't know the number's source. After an article in the Ottawa Citizen repeated the 50,000 pedophiles figure within a quotation from Ian Wilms, the president of the Canadian Association of Police Boards, I called Wilms and asked where he got the number. It came up in a conversation with British police, he said. And no, he couldn't be more precise.

Fortunately, there are several versions of the "50,000 pedophiles" story - including the article in The Independent - that do point to a source. They all say it comes from the Federal Bureau of InvestigationSo I called the FBI. No, a spokeswoman said, that's not our number. We have no idea where it came from. And no, she said, the bureau doesn't have its own estimate of the number of pedophiles online because that's impossible to figure out.

Scepticism is rarely enough to finish off a dubious but useful number, however.

In April 2006, the then US attorney-general, Alberto Gonzales, told the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children: "It is simply astonishing how many predators there are … at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the internet prowling for children." The source of this figure, Gonzales said, was "the television program Dateline".

Gonzales should listen to National Public Radio more often. When journalists from the broadcaster asked Dateline to explain where it got this number, they were told by the show's Chris Hansen that it had interviewed an expert and asked him whether this number that "keeps surfacing" is accurate.

The expert replied, as paraphrased by Hansen: "I've heard it, but depending on how you define what is a predator, it could actually be a very low estimate." Dateline took this as confirmation the number was accurate and repeated it as unqualified fact on three different shows.

The expert Dateline spoke to was an FBI agent, Ken Lanning. When NPR asked Lanning about the magic number, he said: "I didn't know where it came from. I couldn't confirm it, but I couldn't refute it, but I felt it was a fairly reasonable figure."

Lanning also noted a curious coincidence: 50,000 has made appearances as a key number in at least two previous panics in recent years. In the early 1980s, it was supposed to be the number of children kidnapped by strangers every year. At the end of the decade, it was the number of murders committed by satanic cults. These claims, widely reported and believed at the time, were later revealed to be nothing more than hysterical guesses that became "fact" in the retelling.

Now it may be that, as Lanning thinks, the 50,000 figure is close to the reality. But it may also be way off the mark. There may be five million pedophiles on the internet at any given moment, or 500, or five. Nobody really knows. This number is, at best, a guess made by persons unknown.

To get a number that matches the sort of pedophile-in-the-shadow attacks that terrify parents, NISMART (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children) created a category called stereotypical kidnappings: a stranger or slight acquaintance takes or detains a child overnight, transports the child more than 35 kilometres, holds the child for ransom or with the intention of keeping him or her, or kills the child. NISMART estimated that in one year the total number of stereotypical kidnappings in the US was 115. If that number is adjusted to include only children younger than 14 when they were kidnapped it is 90. To look at these statistics rationally, we have to remember that there are roughly 70 million American children. With just 115 cases of children under 18 being stolen by strangers, the risk to any one American minor is about 0.00016 per cent, or 1 in 608,696. For those 14 and under the numbers are only slightly different. There are roughly 59 million Americans aged 14 and under, so the risk is 0.00015 per cent. That's 1 in 655,555.

To put that in perspective, consider the swimming pool. In 2003, the total number of American children 14 and younger who drowned in a swimming pool was 285. Thus the chance of a child drowning in a swimming pool is 1 in 245,614 - or more than 2.5 times greater than the chance of a child being abducted by a stranger. Also in 2003, 2408 children 14 and younger were killed in car crashes. That makes the probability of such a death 1 in 29,070. Thus, a child is 26 times more likely to die in a car crash than to be abducted by a stranger.

The numbers vary from country to country, but everywhere the likelihood of a child being snatched by a stranger is almost indescribably tiny. In Britain, a Home Office report states: "There were 59 cases involving a stranger successfully abducting a child or children, resulting in 68 victims." With 11.4 million children under 16, that works out to a risk of 1 in 167,647. (Note that the British and American numbers are based on different definitions and calculation methods; they aren't directly comparable.)

In Canada, Marlene Dalley of the National Missing Children Services carefully combed police data banks for the years 2000 and 2001 and discovered the total number of cases in which a child was abducted by a "stranger" - using a definition that included "neighbour" or "friend of the father" - was five. As for abductions by true strangers, there was precisely one in two years. There are roughly 2.9 million children aged 14 or younger in Canada. Thus the annual risk to one of those children is 1 in 5.8 million.

As to how these terrible cases end, the statistics flashed briefly by CNN were almost accurate. According to NISMART's rounded numbers (hence they don't quite add up to 100 per cent), 57 per cent of children abducted by strangers in a stereotypical kidnapping were returned alive, while 40 per cent were killed. Four per cent were not found. One critical fact not mentioned in the show is that nine out of 10 stranger abductions are resolved within 24 hours.

All these numbers boil down to something quite simple. First, the overwhelming majority of minors are not abducted. Second, the overwhelming majority of minors who are abducted are not taken by strangers. Third, the overwhelming majority of minors abducted by strangers are not taken in circumstances resembling the stereotypical kidnapping that so terrifies parents. Fourth, the number of stereotypical kidnappings is so small that the chance of that happening to a child is almost indescribably tiny. And finally, in the incredibly unlikely event that a child is snatched by a lurking pedophile, there is a good chance the child will survive and return home in less than a day.

In God We Trust

Another vigilante web site, making law enforcements job, that much harder!

Click the image to visit the site

Texting trend: Naughty flirting, skanky teen sex

View the article here


Last week I worked a piece on sexting from the Tennessean for It got a lot of local attention, but since then I've found out that story was only an introduction to this fad.

Here's the background as explained by the Impact Lab, "The tools of courtship have changed. Move over SMS, MMS and texting, the latest trend is sexting - the sending of x-rated text messages or photos to someone on the cellphone. It’s like having a complete foreplay experience via text messaging."

OK, I guess this is a predictable use - or misuse - of the technology. Isn't is a natural extension of the dust ups over the MySpace profile pics? But with cell phones texts and photos there's no moderator ... no one to delete the photo - undo the deed.

The big rub comes when minors are sending nude and semi-nude photos of themselves via their cell phones. Enter child pornography laws.

Technically the person possessing such a cell phone photo can be charged, convicted, listed as a sex offender and go to prison.

Mark Rasch, a SecurityFocus columnist capsuled the legal issues during an On The Media segment.
- I wish people would stop using the "magical" number "1 in 5!" It's just a number, many have admitted, sounds good, but spreading lies and not facts, does more harm than good. Here is one article, about this "magical number."

Rasch is an independent computer security and privacy consultant. Before that he was an attorney with the Department of Justice's Computer Crime Unit.

According Rasch federal and state law focuses on possession of photos and whether or not the person in the photo is a minor. It doesn't make any difference if the minor took the picture and sent the picture. Possession is enough to warrant prosecution.

Many of the sexting cases so far have resulted in lectures and probation. But according to Rasch, there a very real possibility that someone snagged in a sexting case where minors are involved could be prosecuted after they reach the age of majority.

Rasch mirrors what some privacy advocates are saying about such cases, that turning child pornography laws against the people it was supposed to protect is a perversion of the law. But it can and is happening.

The cases vary from the naughty, which usually results in probation, to what can only be described as skanky teenage sex.

Prosecutors in Greensburg, Penn. charged six teens ranging in age from 14 to 17 with creating, distributing and possessing child pornography, after three girls were found to have taken photos of themselves in the nude or partially nude and e-mailed them to friends, including three boys who are among the defendants.

And in Florida, a 16-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend were charged with producing, directing or promoting child porn after they photographed themselves having sex. Neither of the teens shared the images with anyone else.

Brian Marvin, a member of the FBI Cyber Crime Task Force of Central Ohio told the Impact Lab, "I’ve seen everything from your basic striptease to sexual acts being performed. You name it, they will do it at their home under this perceived anonymity."

But it not anonymous when the send button is involved.

And Portland-area prosecutors have said parents can also face charges if they know their child is sending racy pictures and allowing it to continue.

It's proof that if you mix equal parts technology and hormones you have a lead-pipe-cinch formula for trouble. - These types of sites, should be ILLEGAL!

Sites like this should be against the law! The link that I clicked on said "FREE Sex Offender Report". So, I decided to check to see if they had accurate information. If you notice, the page does say FREE, but if you read the fine print in the pink box, you'll find that when you sign up, you are debited a $1 (for what?), then you get a 7 day FREE trial period. After that, you will be billed $19.95 per month for a 'family safety report', or something like that. This kind of stuff really tics me off and the people doing it should be locked up!! You can get this information FREE at the MANY registries, but they are taking advantage of people, to make a quick buck!

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Intro Page - See highlighted in red

Sample Report - See highlighted in red