Thursday, November 20, 2008

James Mahan - Recreations Director BUSTED for Child Porn

A Bedford Heights resident who once served as aquatics director at the Macedonia Recreation Center was named Friday as one of 41 individuals charged with trading child pornography in a six-month regional child pornography sting known as Operation SafetyNet.

The investigation was conducted by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), which is chaired by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.

James Mahan, 56, of Bedford Heights had been placed on temporary leave by Macedonia after a search warrant was served at his home July 25, said Ryan Miday, spokesman for Mason's office.

"As soon as we learned of his occupation and that he might be in contact with children, we contacted the city," Miday said. "And they acted quickly."

Mahan reportedly resigned Aug. 11.

Part of the investigation included the seizure of several city-owned computers that Mahan had access to. While none of the city computers contained child-pornography related material, Macedonia Mayor Don Kuchta said full cooperation was given when he was contacted by the task force.

"I have a very low tolerance for city computers being used for anything other than work," the mayor said. "And an even lower tolerance for child pornography."

However, the charges against Mahan came as a surprise to those who worked with him in the city, Kuchta said.

"I never received any kind of complaint or any indication of any hanky panky by Jim," the mayor said. "It came as a complete surprise to everyone who worked with him. There was no sign of it."

Mahan was charged with 60 counts of pandering sexually oriented material. Eleven of the counts refer to trading child pornography on the Internet, and 48 fall under a different designation referring to downloading the material onto his computer, Miday said.

"He is also charged with one count of possession of criminal tools -- namely, the computer," Miday said.

Mahan has not been arrested, but has been summonsed to appear at an arraignment Dec. 1, Miday said. Bond will be set at that arraignment.

Operation SafetyNet began in June and utilized peer-to-peer precision technology to target frequent users of child pornography, Miday explained.

"The technology allows us to zero in on where they are trading known child pornography," he said. "That is important; it's known before through things like catalogued information from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children and ICAC."

Tracing the code or cyber "fingerprint" present on every personal computer, the task force was able to execute 62 search warrants in 20 communities in and around Cuyahoga County; seize 4,550 pieces of evidentiary material such as computers, cameras, CDs and flash drives; charge 29 adults and 12 juveniles; and refer 19 cases to agencies outside the county and the state -- as far away as Rhode Island and Florida.
The operation came to involve more than 150 law enforcement officials from 45 agencies and the task force is still conducting forensics testing in an additional 18 cases, Miday said.

"The operation was successful in targeting these predators who are perpetuating the abuse of children," he said.

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