Houlton man charged with possession, dissemination of child porn

David Russell
David Russell
Posted Dec. 14, 2011, at 6:04 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — A Houlton resident was arrested and charged Wednesday afternoon in connection with possession and distribution of child pornography.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said that David Russell, age unavailable, was arrested at around 3 p.m. following an investigation that was begun on Nov. 25 by a detective with the Wheaton (Illinois) Police Department.

Asselin said that Det. Andrew Uhlir contacted HPD in regard to Russell’s alleged involvement in the possession and dissemination of child pornography over the Internet. Uhlir, a member of the Illinois department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was conducting an undercover investigation into unlawful possession and distribution of child pornography through peer-to-peer networks online.

Using a fake computer profile, Uhlir was granted permission to browse the files of a person identified as “russdave” who was using a peer-to-peer program called Gigitribe. Gigitribe is a file sharing program that allows users to create profiles, post blog entries and chat with one another. The user decides who will be allowed in their private network.

Asselin said that “russdave” allowed the detective access to his network. Once there, Uhlir identified files that were available for download and saw a large amount of images and videos which had titles indicative of child pornography. Upon viewing the files, Uhlir observed that they in fact showed images of children engaged in sexual activity with adults, according to Asselin. Other images in the files depicted children posing in lewd positions.

The detective was able to identify the user as Russell of Bangor Street in Houlton, Maine, Asselin said.

Uhlir submitted his investigative file to the HPD Detective Kris Calaman for follow up. Calaman contacted the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit for assistance on Nov. 28, according to Asselin. Calaman was assisted by Special Agent Michael McFadden.

Two days later, the chief said, Calaman and McFadden executed a search warrant at the Russell residence. A Dell computer, 18 CDs and DVDs and an external hard drive were seized. The CDs, DVDs and electronic devices were briefly examined inside the computer crimes mobile unit at the scene and found to contain an inordinate amount of child pornography, Asselin said.

Police also seized two cameras. Russell’s smartphone was examined in the apartment and found not to contain child pornography.

No arrest was made at that time due to the fact the investigation wasn’t completed.

Asselin said that there is no evidence at this time to show that Russell was viewing or disseminating child pornography other than at his residence. The chief said that so far there also is no evidence to indicate that any of the materials seized contained images or videos of local children. However, the materials are still being examined by law enforcement officials.

Until recently, Russell worked as an advertising representative for the Houlton Pioneer Times.

Russell was charged with felony counts of dissemination of sexually explicit material and possession of explicit material. He was taken to the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. Bail was set at $50,000 surety or $10,000 cash with numerous conditions, including that he not possess Internet-ready electronic devices, submit to random search and testing of any Internet-ready electronic devices and have no contact with any children under the age of 18.

He had not made bail as of early Wednesday evening.

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