St. Marys man arrested in child porn investigation
HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane on Monday announced the arrest of a St. Marys man as part of ongoing efforts to target the online sharing, downloading and distribution of child pornography.
Ronald Gregory Dill, 58, 207 N. St. Marys St., Apt. 1, St. Marys, Elk County, was arrested on March 7, 2014 following a three-month investigation by agents in the Office of Attorney General's Child Predator Section.
According to the charges, agents identified a computer on a peer-to-peer network sharing several media files believed to depict child pornography. The computer's IP address was later identified as serving the residence where the defendant resided.
Agents executing a search warrant at Dill's residence, encountered the defendant on his computer using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. A laptop computer and external hard drive were seized and later reviewed by forensic experts, which revealed more than 30 video files indicative of child pornography.
According to the criminal complaint, Dill has allegedly viewed explicit material depicting children as young as 3 years old engaged in sexual acts.
Dill is charged with 20 counts of possession of child pornography, seven counts of distributing child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was preliminarily arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge George A. King and held in the Elk County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 18, 2014.
The affiant on the affidavit of probable cause is listed as Duane E. Tabak, Special Agent, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, currently assigned to the Child Predator Unit.
On Nov. 22, 2013, Tabak was conducting an online internet investigation to identify those possessing and sharing child pornography using the ARES P2P network, an open source peer to peer filing sharing network used for the exchange of files between computer users, according to court documents.
Using a P2P client software program, Tabak located a computer on the ARES network previously seen with at least nine files of investigative interest. They are known to law enforcement and identified by their "SHA1" value, a mathematical algorithm that allows for the fingerprinting of files. Software utilities are used to "hash" a file to determine a unique identifying SHA1 value. Files identified by their SHA1 value are known or otherwise believed to depict images of children under the age of 18.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Tabak was able to make a direct connection to the host computer and successfully completed the download of five files of investigative interest. All five files appear to depict children under the age of 18 years old in sexual acts and/or pose, and is believed to be child pornography in violation of Pennsylvania Crimes Code Section 6312 - sexual abuse of children.
On Jan. 30, Tabak again located a computer on the ARES network using the P2P client software program, this time locating at least 18 files of investigative interest. Tabak was reportedly able to download five files of investigative interest, all of which appeared to be child pornography.
On Jan. 31, Tabak applied for and received two separate court orders from the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas directing Windstream Communications, Inc. to release subscriber and other other pertinent information regarding the user identified with the two IP addresses. The company responded with the identifying information on Feb. 10.
The Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) portal and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) confirmed that Ronald Dill had an expired driver's license associated with the target address.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Special Agent Phil Larcinese traveled to the address but did not observe any of the individuals known to reside in the residence during the surveillance.
Three days later, Tabak and other agents from the Attorney General's office and St. Marys City Police Department executed a search warrant. At least one computer and one external hard drive were recovered from the residence, which were previewed and/or examined by qualified forensic examiners. During the preview of these devices and/or media, apparent child pornography media files were discovered.
Dill and his ex-wife were the only individuals at home when the search commenced. He was advised of his rights and said he stays in the residence during the winter months; he is known to reside in a camper during favorable weather conditions.
Dill reportedly said he owns a laptop computer and an external hard drive that he used to save files to; it is the same external hard drive found to contain apparent child pornography.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, he has used the ARES program in the past, however he is reportedly no longer using the program. Dill reportedly acknowledged he used the P2P programs to look at pornography, and that he "used it to knowingly search for, view and download child pornography," saying he has been "looking at child pornography for years."
Dill reported that he knew the term "pedo" stood for "pedophile," and knew that by using any of these terms he would find child pornography. According to court documents, the youngest child he has viewed on his computer "engaged in a sexual act was about 3 years old," and reported that he has "never touched a child in an inappropriate sexual way."
In the documents, he reported that simply viewing the material he downloads is enough to satisfy him.
A review by a qualified expert uncovered at least 30 files of suspected child pornography contained within the drive. The age range is reportedly between 2 and 13 years old.
Attorney General Kane acknowledged the St. Marys Police Department for its assistance with the investigation.
The case will be prosecuted in Elk County by Deputy Attorney General Anthony Marmo of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section.
Suspected Internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General's Child Predator Section by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044. Internet safety tips are available on the "Operation Safe Surf" section of www.attorneygeneral.gov. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations should contact the Attorney General's Education and Outreach Unit at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.