“Checking the Weather” in Maryland, California, Canada and Europe

Using government computers to download pornography led to removal and a prison sentence for this 30-year federal employee.

At one time, it seemed as though a federal employee who was amusing himself by collecting child pornography would have an employment problem in that the employee could be fired.

But here is a new twist. A former federal employee from Bowie, Maryland who reportedly had more than 30 years of federal service has been sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for producing and possessing child pornography. According to US Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, “Every photograph of child pornography is evidence of a crime.” He has also been ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to a family victim.

And Robert M. Carey possessed a lot of the stuff. Apparently the computers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can be fast and efficient. Because he was working with satellite images, it wasn’t uncommon for him to download a lot of large images onto his work computer on a daily basis. The agency did not really know what he was downloading in addition to the weather images. Enhanced security measures led the government to take a closer look at all the data.

According to investigators who searched Carey’s NOAA office and residence, they found more than one million images of young girls in erotic or sexually graphic poses contained in photo albums. He had more than 30 years of working with the agency and apparently had been downloading the images at work for about 10 years.

With the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, federal investigators were able to identify 16 children from the pornographic images Carey was accused of downloading from the web.

But getting to the former employee of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was not easy. After his indictment last year, Robert M. Carey took off. He initially fled to California, apparently went to Vancouver, and then disappeared. Two days after being featured on a TV Show, “America’s Most Wanted,” he turned himself in to authorities in Rome. Agents say that Carey called the U.S. Embassy on Janurary, 23, 2005 and told them he was a fugitive. He explained to the Embassy that he wanted to turn himself in. Agents believe he heard he was featured on America’s Most Wanted and decided that it would be too hard to remain anonymous.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47