EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 2, 2014

Haverhill man pleads guilty to distributing child porn

Staples workers discovered files on computer left for repairs

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — A 31-year-old Haverhill man has pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography.

David Keith will be sentenced Sept. 9 on three charges — distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography and accessing child pornography — said Brandy Donini-Melanson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The plea agreement was made prior to a scheduled May 27 trial in Boston federal court.

Keith faces up to 20 years in prison on the distribution charge, with a mandatory minimum of five years behind bars. The other charges include maximum prison sentences of 10 years each. All three counts include fines up to $250,000 and supervised probationary periods from five years to life after release.

Keith was charged last year following an investigation by New Hampshire and Massachusetts local and state police.

The investigation began after workers at a Staples store in Plaistow discovered files containing children involved in sexual activity on a computer which Keith left for repairs, police said. The Staples workers contacted police about the files, and an investigation that turned up other information led to charges, investigators said.

Besides the computer files, the federal case against Keith also relies on December 2009 report by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that was submitted to the Massachusetts State Police cyber tip line, according to documents on file at U.S. District Court in Boston.

The tip line information indicated that a computer linked to Keith’s Haverhill address was likely the source of an email file that contained child pornography, court papers said.

The court papers are related to a Nov. 5, 2013, decision by U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. denying Keith’s request that the court suppress certain physical evidence found by police in a 2010 search of Keith’s home, as well as statements Keith made to investigators.

A prior decision in the case by Judge O’Toole said Keith admitted to New Hampshire investigators that the computer at the Staples store in Plaistow was his and that he had viewed and downloaded files depicting images of children as young as 8 years old engaging in sexual activity. Massachusetts State Police searched Keith’s home on Sept. 17, 2010, after they were contacted by New Hampshire police who were investigating the Staples computer, court papers said.

The search of Keith’s home “yielded incriminating information, and the defendant also made incriminating admissions after having been advised of his Miranda rights,” court paperwork said.

A summary of the judge’s decision said Keith was questioned by a Plaistow police officer on Aug. 10, 2010, and that Keith admitted the computer left at the Staples store was his. The summary also said Keith told police that he had “seen and downloaded upwards of 50 files depicting children as young as eight years old engaging in sexual activity.”

A subsequent examination of Keith’s laptop by police discovered “online chat messages suggesting possible sexual abuse on a minor living in the defendant’s home,” the case summary said. The court summary said police independently confirmed that a child with the same name that was used in the online chats lived at Keith’s home.

Plaistow police then contacted Haverhill police, who contacted state police, court paperwork said. State police then obtained a court order to search Keith’s home and recovered “evidence the government expects to be useful in the present prosecution,” the court’s decision said.

Keith’s Sept. 9 sentencing hearing is at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 9 at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston.