West Harwich man pleads guilty to child pornography possession

Thomas J. Richardson could serve up to four years in prison
Thomas J. Richardson of West Harwich pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

A 67-year-old West Harwich man pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in a Boston court yesterday.  Thomas J. Richardson, formerly of Charlestown, appeared before US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro in connection with charges stemming from a 2008 FBI investigation.  According to a release from the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz's Office, the terms of Richardson's plea indicate that he must serve between 24 to 46 months prison followed by supervised release.  He will also be responsible for forfeiture and restitution as determined by the judge at his sentencing.

Between July and August 2008, FBI agents were able to link Richardson to the screen name "GreatG" through peer-to-peer file sharing and Google Hello.  Google Hello was a photo sharing program that worked with Picasa. It has since been discontinued. Over the course of several sessions, agents were able to access and download pornographic images of children in Richardson's possession.

The FBI's Boston field office obtained information from a British law enforcement agency linking Richardson to a target in their area.  With the assistance of the British police, FBI agents were able to determine that Richardson had accessed his "GreatG" account at his homes in Charlestown and West Harwich as well as from a computer belonging to his employer at the time, according to the US Attorney's Office.

On November 6, 2008, the FBI executed a search warrant at both of Richardson's homes, seizing six laptop computers.

A forensic examination of the laptops revealed "significant child pornographic activity", according to the FBI.  Several images depicting children in a sexually graphic manner were discovered on the computers. Deleted and temporary Internet files were also retrieved, according to the FBI.

In addition to graphic images, agents also recovered 159 chat transcripts between Richardson and 81 other users on Google Hello. According to the FBI, the chats showed Richardson to have a "substantial knowledge of child pornography series as well as his extensive collection of child pornography, which allowed him to provide child pornography tailored to the requester's preferences."

Richardson will be sentenced on April, 17, 2013.

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