NY Newsday Publisher Guilty of Child Porn and Obstruction of Justice
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Former New York Newsday publisher Robert Johnson, 60, pleaded guilty on Friday in Manhattan federal court to charges that he possessed child pornography and destroyed computer records that were the subject of a federal investigation. Johnson retired as CEO and publisher of Newsday during the course of the federal investigation.
Johnson's plea today is the product of “Operation Predator,” a law enforcement initiative to protect children from pornographers, child prostitution rings, Internet predators, alien smugglers, and human traffickers.
“Child pornography victimizes children over and over as the vile images are spread and traded from predator to predator,” said one investigator.
According to the Indictment and Johnson's guilty plea, the former Chief Executive Officer of New York Newsday, a leading newspaper headquartered in New York City, knowingly possessed sexually explicit photographs of children on a computer owned by the company. He had obtained the illegal images by purchasing membership rights to websites that sold child pornography.
According to the Indictment and Johnson's statement in court, prior to May 3, 2004, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents learned that Robert Johnson, using the internet aliases "robjob714" and "jobobo55," had purchased memberships in websites believed to contain and distribute child pornography and had done so through a computer that the agents traced to the company.
On May 4, 2004, an ICE agent spoke to two executives at Newsday and informed them that ICE was investigating usage of a computer to access Internet websites believed to contain and distribute child pornography but did not tell the executives that ICE was investigating Robert Johnson.
On May 4, 2004, one of the executives told Johnson that the company had received an inquiry from federal authorities concerning use of a computer to access Internet websites that contain and distribute child pornography.
According to the Indictment and Johnson's statement in court, on May 5 and 6, 2004, after learning about the federal investigation into the use of a company computer to access child pornography, Johnson used a computer program called "Evidence Eliminator" to destroy and obliterate more than 12,000 files from the hard disk drive of the desktop and laptop computers assigned to him by the company.
In his plea allocution in court, Johnson acknowledged that he had possessed at least two images of child pornography that he had downloaded from an Internet website and he had used the “Evidence Eliminator” program to destroy computer files from his desktop and laptop computers after he learned of the federal investigation.
Johnson retired from the Company on May 17, 2004.
Johnson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on the charge of possession of child pornography and a maximum of 20 years in prison on the charge of destruction of documents in connection with a federal investigation.
The latter charge was brought against Johnson as a result of a statute enacted as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court before United States District Judge Richard Howell on October 27, 2006 at 12:00 noon.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.