back to article 'Law and Order' cop accused of child porn possession

Headshot of Albert Insinnia The actor who played a hard-nosed cop who cracked down on sexual deviants on prime-time TV has pleaded not guilty after authorities said they found 180 images of child porn on his PC. The offensive photos were allegedly found after the actor, Albert Insinnia, took his PC to a Best Buy in New …

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Anonymous Coward

Typical

As far as I can remember, it has always been an "in-joke" that the first thing any PC repair technician does as soon as the customer is out of the shop is to search for the porn stash. In one way this is disturbing, in another way it's reassuring as I know of at least one other individual who had been caught with illigal images in the same manner.

Where does this come under invasion of privacy?

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't sound likely to me

Would you take your PC to be fixed at such a store if you knew it had dodgy porn on it?

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Anonymous Coward

Its invasion of privacy...

because the repair guys are NOT law enforcement officers, and if they were they would have to have a warrant to search my PC, and to get THAT they would have to show probable cause.

The Geek Sqad has no reason to be searching in anything BUT c:/windows and it's subfolders to fix a PC...certainly nothing under c:/my documents.

The simple fact is that the average male web surfer will have his browser collect images of scantily clad females in his web cache, if nothing else. If even some of these LOOK to be under 18, you can be brought up on child porn charges...whether you meant to collect them or not...you may have simply clicked on a spam email that brought you to that site, and your browser dutifully downloaded them as part of the page. And that's what is so scary about this fishing expedition mentality...

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RE: Typical

What's typical is the assumption that files on a person's hard disk are their responsibility!

I'm pretty sure that everyone is aware of incidents where illegal images have been found on a person's PC after taking it in to a repair shop.

So do you really think that a paedophile today is going to take their porn-encrusted PC into Best Buy for a routine repair?

Aren't they much more likely to either fix it themselves or - if they are as well-off and as well-respected as this particular PC owner - wouldn't they just bin it and get a new one?

I mean, really, come on people.

This particular 'suspect' is an actor, such people are well known for sociable activities, such as having guests in their house, including guests they have not vetted for sexual deviancy. Maybe that's a crime now??

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Anonymous Coward

Likely scenario

Perhaps the Best Buy tech used the customer's PC to collect kiddie porn, someone else saw it, and the tech framed the customer in order to avoid being arrested himself.

After all, it's not as if Best Buy makes any special effort to hire only upstanding citizens. We've seen plenty of evidence of the type that work there.

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surprising

so someone in the geek squad did something remotely intelligent with a computer? Wow! these are the same people that told me i could not strip vista and put xp on because of the MOTHERBOARD type. think about that for a min. but really how ironic that they get him for what he chastised people on the show for...

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Do the words "chain of custody" mean anything?

Bob brings his computer to Dave the computer tech. Dave takes the computer to Officer Bill and says "Oh, look, Officer Bill, this computer has teh kiddie pr0nz on it!" Officer Bill arrests Bob. Has it occurred to anyone that even if Bob keeps his computer under lock and key at all times, and allows nobody else near it, the mere fact that Dave the computer tech has had unrestricted access to it and Dave the computer tech is not a law enforcement officer itself completely destroy the legal chain of custody? There is no way to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Bob put the images on there, and it wasn't Dave the computer tech's attempt to exploit the current wave of moral hysteria to set Bob up for reasons real or imagined, after all...

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Anonymous Coward

Computer forensics

The police will undertake a full forensic examination of the hard drive. This should be able to establish when and how the images came to be on the computer. To say you could be charged with downloading indecent images of children just because you clicked on a spam email is laughable.

I am frankly amazed that someone could make this comment "If even some of these LOOK to be under 18, you can be brought up on child porn charges...whether you meant to collect them or not...you may have simply clicked on a spam email that brought you to that site, and your browser dutifully downloaded them as part of the page. And that's what is so scary about this fishing expedition mentality..."

For any law enforcement agency to press charges they would need more evidence than a small number of images held within temporary internet files. They only have limited resources and would not bring a case to court that is highly likely to get thrown out. Any image used as a charge would have to be a definate indecent image any that are on the borderline would not be used. I am speaking from experience as a forensic examiner with 5 years experience in law enforcement.

People with this sort of material DO still take computers into repair centres, anyone remember Gary Glitter?

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re: Doesn't sound likely to me

I can guarantee you it does happen - I used to work in a repair centre (I'll give you a clue, cheesy TV adverts) and was present when a colleague found a load of child porn on a laptop brought in for a wipe. The guy was arrested and had a house full of kiddie porn tapes. I have to say I don't feel bad that we invaded his privacy.

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Anonymous Coward

likely scenario comment above - agreed!

Yes its quite likely, esp. knowing that the PC is owned by this actor! Framing him would be perfect given his Law & Order links.

I've been involved in a similar search on office Computers in one of our departments in the past.

We quickly learned that because people have 'handled' the PC (us, or the repairers in this case) who are not official and impartial investigators, eg. the police, then the evidence can become non-submissible easily.

His 'attorney' or whatever, simply has to show that the PC was handled beyond the owners control (clearly used by the technician and previous owners) before any official investigative contact, and could have been tampered with.

What lends more weight is how the techy ended up rooting around non-system folders when he should have stuck to \Windows or \Program Files or more realistically just the Control Panel and Administrative Tools or his own toolset.

I would also bet that a search of the techys personal PC would turn up the same child pics, Either he's taken a copy (The curiosity and being able to show the high profile pics to his mates, if he has any, for 'fun' would be too strong), or he originally planted them, either way he'd be just as guilty in this regard. I say call him in for investigation too!!

But in reality this (sometimes rightfuly) doesn't stop people getting put away - point in question - Gary Glitter, but he's proven himself a dirty scumbag paedo in other ways.

It'll be very interesting to see how this one unfolds.

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Silver badge

Computer Forensics?

> For any law enforcement agency to press charges they would need more evidence than a small number of images held within temporary internet files.

Sorry, have you even *heard* of Operation Ore...?

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Anonymous Coward

Not infringement of privacy

If you had a load of illegal drugs in the boot of your car and then took it in for an MOT, would you think your liberties had been infringed by the mechanic who finds the stash? Computer techs work the same - they are not psychologists or preists who have an ethical obligation to keep your secrets sercet.

Oh, and as someone who works as an IT support technician I can say never underestimate the level of computer ignorance that computer users are capable of. It is quite possible that this guy thought the pictures were safe because he didn't give the techies his personal User account log-in password - or that he didn't realise that making files 'hidden' with some stupid freeware doesn't actually make them invisible!

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On top of shoddy work...

...you might go to jail.

Hmmm. Sounds like another reason not to trust you repairs to Best Buy

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Anonymous Coward

re: Surprising

Make sure to drop back by that Geek Squad precinct and apologize to them for pretending to be smart.

There ARE SEVERAL motherboards on the market from the past half a year that have onboard sound or other onboard devices that do not have XP drivers because they were built after XP was rendered obsolete by Vista.

So their information was accurate and you've just been pwnt.

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Re: Computer forensics

"For any law enforcement agency to press charges they would need more evidence"

In the USA? Where the plods don't even need a warrant to wiretap your communications any more?

Yeah, right.

Any fool who trusts his government these days deserves a Darwin award.

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re: Computer forensics

>I am frankly amazed that someone could make this comment "If even some >of these LOOK to be under 18, you can be brought up on child porn charges..

>For any law enforcement agency to press charges they would need more >evidence than a small number of images held within temporary internet files. >They only have limited resources and would not bring a case to court that is >highly likely to get thrown out. Any image used as a charge would have to be >a definate indecent image any that are on the borderline would not be used. I >am speaking from experience as a forensic examiner with 5 years >experience in law enforcement.

Then in all fairness you aren't up to date with current UK and US legislation, the US is a lot more relaxed about how the images get onto your computer, i.e, an email containing child porn is enough to get you on court. In the UK there is slightly more evidence required (though ony just) but you are basically guilty unless you can prove it wasn't you. Not prove other people had access but actually prove someone else put the images on your computer. People who think the innocent till proven guilty line still works are sorely mistaken.

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Re: Computer forensics

"The police will undertake a full forensic examination of the hard drive. This should be able to establish when and how the images came to be on the computer."

Mmm-hmm. Of course they will. A full forensic examination, you say? Well, if their forensic examination is as detailed and as meticulous as it was in the case of Julie Amero, the substitute teacher who was accused and convicted when her school's virus-ridden Win98 box started showing porn pop-ups, then he's well and truly buggered.

A full forensic examination. The police, in the US, will conduct a full forensic examination. Of a computer. Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I feel safer already!

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Anonymous Coward

Quick to Jump on Geek Squad, what a suprise...

Despite the recent news about certain Geek Squad Agents who are accused of stealing and looking at customer porn/photos/music... I find it laughable that someone would go as far to say that the Geek Squad Agent planted whatever photo's were found.

As a former Geek Squad Agent, it disgusts me to no end that apparently there were those that felt the need to look at and take their clients files.

To the person that said that one should only have to look at the windows directory to fix or work on a computer, you must not work or fix many computers. While doing full virus or spyware scans you will see the names of files. While doing data transfers/backups, to verify the correct data has been transfered or backed up you will see the clients data, whether you intend to or not, especially if the client likes to leave thumbnail view on.

Part of Best Buy's/Geek Squad's privacy policy protects the client in these situations where it was impossible for us not to notice the files on their computer. However in the cases where we did notice files that may be considered child pornography, our obligation under the law was to report this to the manager on duty and let them make the call on whether the authorities would be notified. While a Geek Squad Agent, I was strictly told that if something was found while normal work was being completed, we were not to search for any more offending files and to stop work on the unit immediatly and inform the Manager on Duty, who would deal with it from there.

There is a reason why we have courts, there is a reason why you are innocent until proven guilty. If Mr. Insinnia is guilty of a crime then the authorities/Judge/Jury will determine so. I appluad the Geek Squad Agent that brought what he saw to the attention of their Manager. Too often people don't do anything when they see something that is wrong or illegal. How would you feel if someone could have stopped a pedophile but didn't bother to report it before something more serious happened to our children?

On a lighter note, I find it very ironic that something like this would happen to an Actor for L&O, SVU, you'd think he would know better and be more aware of what was on their computer and who had access at home...

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Anonymous Coward

likely scenario comment above - agreed! - ARE YOU SERIOUS?

"I would also bet that a search of the techys personal PC would turn up the same child pics, Either he's taken a copy (The curiosity and being able to show the high profile pics to his mates, if he has any, for 'fun' would be too strong), or he originally planted them, either way he'd be just as guilty in this regard. I say call him in for investigation too!!"

Wow! How could you possibly know this? I'll take your bet. It must be great to be as all knowing as you. It's awesome that you can make outrageous statements like this with absolutely zero evidence to back it up. You claim the technician is just as guilty as this guy, but how do you know? I'm sure you know this person and have seen these pictures on his PC first hand, right?

Wrong.

Secondly, unless everybody on this board has information that wasn't mentioned in this article, you're speculating on how the technician came across the material in question to begin with.

Everybody is jumping to the conclusion that the technician was rooting through the customers hard drive for no good reason. We have no idea why this actor took the PC to the Geek Squad. Isn't it possible that his system wasn't booting into Windows and he asked the Geek Squad to recover data for him, and as the technician was copying files from the requested directories he noticed file names for pictures that led him to believe they were pictures of underage children?

Of course it's possible. It's also possible that the technician was rooting through his hard drive for not good reason. Of course, the technician works for the Geek Squad, so he must be up to no good, right?

"Just the facts, ma'am"

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Grammar

Interesting isn't it, that many times those having difficulty with grammar follow the "guilty until proven innocent" and "if necessary, let's take the law in our own hands" doctrines.

And in light of that a re to "ARE YOU SERIOUS": There is a reason -why- Geek Squad has gotten this bad name.

I also wonder if the righteous Geek Squad technicians would immediately alert their managers if they found child pornography on the machines of their co-workers.

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Anonymous Coward

Look the laws are ridiculous

You know that picture your mother has of you when you were like 3 doing something stupid while naked? The one that she'll take out one day 25 years after the fact and have a laugh with your fiancee? The one that has been made fun of in dozens of movies over the decades?

That picture could land your mom in jail under current US child pornography rules.

Some properly documented pornographic images of adult women have been deemed child pornography because the actress/model "looked" like she could be under 18.

Heck, I am not sure if we can even talk about this so "explicitly" under the letter of US child pornography laws.

See, the most serious crime regarding these laws is that they are no longer about protecting the children from harm. The laws have become an excuse for a witch hunt.

I've got no clue what exactly is going on here, for all I know this guy is a craven pedophile and deserves far worse than prison. Then again, this guy could have a college aged mistress who "looks" young- maybe she wore a school girl outfit and pigtails for him one night or some other stupidity.

My point is that the laws are so out of whack in this area that we can draw no conclusions whatsoever from this report.

What I can conclude is that once again Best Buy Geek Squad staff has been snooping around in user documents.

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spying part swapping

Monkies I wouldn't let one of those critters

near my computer but of course they arent

qualified to do anything with my computer

so I guess thats sort of moot. Lately just having

random porn in your cache is not enough that

we have legal precedent for where were the

kiddie porn files and why was the computer

in the shop was his PC by any chance a porn

bot wouldn't be too hard to prove if you knew

what you were looking for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Computer Forensics

""For any law enforcement agency to press charges they would need more evidence"

In the USA? Where the plods don't even need a warrant to wiretap your communications any more?

Yeah, right.

Any fool who trusts his government these days deserves a Darwin award."

I am not saying that miscarraiges of justice don't happen. But if a case is to be tried in court they will need a reasonably strong case. If I went to the CPS in the UK with case whose only evidence was a small number of files in temp internet files it would be highly unlikely they would take the case to court.

With regards to Operation ORE, mistakes seem to have made during the arrest phase BUT if no evidence was found during resulting search and seizure then how could a case be brought to court?

I suppose we could just make it up....

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Anonymous Coward

re:computer forensics

> I suppose we could just make it up...

Spot on. It certainly seems in the case of Operation Ore some evidence WAS "made up", or at least highly exaggerated in order to get a conviction...as someone said before "witch hunt" is entirely appropriate

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Privacy

Paul Walker: Obviously I don't know the circumstances of how your friend found the 'stash' but if it wasn't directly as a result of him fixing the computer you should feel bad.

Otherwise your no better than the builder who when left alone in a house searches through all the drawers, cupboards and such because he can.

If I kick the hell out of someone in the street, and later find out their wanted for murder, do I suddenly become a hero?

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Poor sod

Frankly, whatever he was up to I feel sorry for the chap who found the pictures.

I had reason to work for a client some time back who specialised in web-services for transexual/gender non-specifics. Perfectly legal (I checked, believe me). I have no problems with that sort of thing, what people do with their own life, and so on, but I don't lean that way myself and don't seek out or want to look at such images - even rendered "legal". Amazing how much work you can get done by REALLY focusing on just the spot on-screen that you have to and ignoring the rest as best you can. Afterwards I flet as though I wanted to wash my eyeballs.

So, although the world takes all types. I feel sorry for the chap who came across these images. I assume he's not into that sort of thing himself.

Nasty.

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Anonymous Coward

re: ARE YOU SERIOUS

Yes I am serious -

How do you suppose a simple filename would lead to the arrest of somebody exactly!? Something as simple as typing a few words into the rename box in Explorer!?

Fact is these Geek Squad techys are rooting around hard disks in folders they shouldn't be in looking for all sorts of file content, otherwise he wouldn't have discovered anything.

I think it is a possibility that he is not going to be too shocked to see or take copies of underage porn, esp if it is very borderline underage porn. If you had access to files involved in a very high profile investigation such as this, would you not take a copy given the press might pay good money for such files.

> Wow! How could you possibly know this? I'll take your bet.

I of course don't really KNOW for sure, but this is called speculation, thats why I called for him to be in for investigation too. Read between the lines.

You seem very naive.

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Anonymous Coward

Response to Paul Barton

You said something along the lines of "no paedo would take his/her pc in to a repair shop knowing there was illigal images on it."

One of the cases I am aware of, this actually happened. The individual was obviously under the impression that IT technicians were an honorable bunch who respected the customers privacy. Not a bunch of porn /mp3 hungry geeks who repair computers in their spare time at work.

I would assume only noob pervs or innocent victims of other usrs / inherited HD clutter are caught this way.

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Guilty!!!!!

Glitter, Townshend, Langham, R Kelly, King just a few of the growing number of entertainers who have been charged with similar offences.

When are we going to wake up and realise that we need to tkae a pro-active approach and lock these monsters up before they offend.

I say we lock up the entire entertainment industry before anyone else gets hurt.

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Surely its innocent until proven guilty.

Lets assume for this matter that the kiddie pr0n was placed on there by the best buy tech.

Surely the fact that this has been blasted all over the media and linked to a well known actor has done more damage than a guilty verdict.

Throw enough mud and it starts to stick.

Whether the guy is guilty or not is not the point, its the fact that he'll be assumed guilty by the general populace who subscribe to the "if its in the news, you did it" line of enquiries.

The damage to his reputation has already been done.

If the actor IS the perpetrator, then screw him with all the law can enforce.

If he's innocent will Best buy, the media or any other division provide PR to repair this man's credibility and reputation??

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J

re: ARE YOU SERIOUS - ARE YOU STILL SERIOUS?

"I think it is a possibility that he is not going to be too shocked to see or take copies of underage porn, esp if it is very borderline underage porn. If you had access to files involved in a very high profile investigation such as this, would you not take a copy given the press might pay good money for such files."

"You seem very naive."

It has nothing to do with being naive, and everything to do with the facts and the word you used, speculation. You're calling for them to launch an investigation into the content on the technicians home PC.

"I of course don't really KNOW for sure, but this is called speculation, thats why I called for him to be in for investigation too"

So, you have no evidence that this person has taken evidence against this actor home with him, but you want his PC searched on speculation? Nice job. I'm SPECULATING your not a lawyer. Just the fact that you think all Geek Squad employees or people in general are scum bags is essentially why you believe they should search his PC? The actor is famous so, obviously this technician is guilty of trying to make a buck off of this, right?

You just think that guy is guilty of something, for no good reason, just your personal opinion of the character of somebody who's name you don't even know. Who's face you've never seen. Who you've never talked to, and don't know anything about.

Does that just about sum it up?

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Dumb Crooks + Nosy Techs = "Law & Order"

I wouldn't take one of my machines to Best Buy if you put a gun to my head.

The "problem" of nosy techs isn't limited to them, though, for example this local story:

http://www.kptv.com/news/13912389/detail.html

The guy took his box to a shop called "Integrity PC" to have RAM installed. Why that would involve poking around the hard drive is beyond me. I know some will say it's a good thing if child porn is found, but what about the 1000 other innocent customers whose information is scanned?

"Integrity PC" my arse.

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Not new

When the Amiga was up and around, we'd get them in for repair and I remember one that had a harddrive in it. An unusual occurance back in the 1980s.

This one had dozens of directories labelled with names best not said less a word checker bounces this comment! But obviously the man had categorised all his Porn.

The files inside were encrypted but the man had labelled his Porn in some detail.

We phoned the police but they really didn't have any idea of how to proceed.

I'm sure they had no idea what an 'Amiga' was.

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Anonymous Coward

Actually...

The second thing I do after I get a system repaired, is to look for music collections. Porn's OK, but it's kind of like going to an all you can eat buffet, and only being able to watch people eat. I've gotten a great deal of music from PCs I've repaired. Of course, as a network admin, I can just search any PC that's on the LAN for mp3s. But I try not to abuse my privileges too much. I suppose you could bash me for copyright infringement, but since I wouldn't spend a penny on any of the stuff I copy, and I don't distribute it, it's hard to see who's out anything.

Most amusing thing I've recently found on a PC: (a top executive too) A screensaver composed of images of his wife, and close ups of her vagina. A little bit more information than I needed...

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Re: re: ARE YOU SERIOUS - ARE YOU STILL SERIOUS?

"So, you have no evidence that this person has taken evidence against this actor home with him, but you want his PC searched on speculation?"

It is pretty safe to say that the technician speculated to find something worthwhile on the man's harddrive.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Stuart Haliday

If the guy had a huge amount of porn on his computer in the 80's either he was an uber-nerd even by the standards of 80's home computer users, with some insanely expensive kit and a super-fast net connection, the images were of such poor quality to be indecipherable, or he was a dealer/provider.

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invasion of privacy or not...

... isn't it still illegal search? How can they base prosecution on evidence gleaned from poking around in stuff they're not supposed to poke around? Even if the techie did just catch on to the porn because of file names turned up during a virus scan (assuming the computer problem justified such a scan, and assuming the tech should be permitted to watch the files names flying by at all), he undoubtedly opened some of the images/videos before calling the cops, and he had no right to do so.

Basically the flavour of all this is, "if you sniff a hint of CP in the air, accuse, and worry about being just later on". By that note, they should investigate the techie too, since he's been tainted by the cloying odour of CP as well, no one cares whether this secondary investigation is justified or not.

Also by the witchhunt rules described above, apparently I and most of my friends should be in jail simply for having visited various futaba clones like 4chan, since regardless of having no interest in CP, we've doubtless accumulated countless borderline images in our caches.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes.

"Also by the witchhunt rules described above, apparently I and most of my friends should be in jail simply for having visited various futaba clones like 4chan, since regardless of having no interest in CP, we've doubtless accumulated countless borderline images in our caches."

Yes. Of course, the computer would have to have been officially taken in for some reason to begin with (I think even Geek Squad wouldn't troll through the internet cache). However, I think especially in the south, prosecutors do seem to have the "If they were picked up they must be guilty" attitude, and will then use any twisted logic and legal interpretation possible to try to prosecute the case. So, hopefully your case would be laughed out of court (despite the prosecutor's protests) but by then your legal bill could be quite high.

As for the rest.. Geek Squad is well known for pilfering any MP3s and porn on a person's computer. They'd certainly copy software if it were self-contained ala Win3.1, DOS, OSX, etc. I can't see someone at Geek Squad PLANTING stuff on the computer though -- come on guys, that is just silly. As for someone else using the computer? Who knows; I would assume if the child porn was all put on in a short period, a visitor may have put it on; if it's spread out over years, not so likely.

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Silver badge

One thing cracks me up

"establish when and how the images came to be on the computer"

I'm sure there are people who actually think that that is possible without a shred of doubt.

I mean, nobody who wants to plant false information would think of changing the date on the PC before creating the files, now would they ?

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Anonymous Coward

children >> privacy

Why do so many people seem to be offended by a tech finding kiddie porn on the computer but not offended by the kiddie porn itself? It sounds to a casual observer as if many posters of comments here tacitly approve of child pornography. Please tell me that I am wrong.

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