Local man sentenced in child porn case

A 33-year-old Harris man could face up to 60 months in state prison for each of the multiple counts of child pornography crimes to which he previously pleaded guilty.

Michael Lawrence Cloud, who pleaded guilty to six counts of possession of child pornography last August, appeared for sentencing Jan. 22 in Chisago County District Court. Six counts of dissemination of child pornography were dismissed in exchange for the plea, according to Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter.

Michael Lawrence Cloud

Michael Lawrence Cloud

The admission was entered on the basis that Cloud believed there to be sufficient evidence to convict him, though he did not fully admit to intentionally possessing the thousands of child pornography images that were referenced in the criminal complaint, Reiter explained.

The court handed down a stayed prison sentence of 15 to 60 months for each of the six counts of possession. As conditions of the stayed prison sentence, Cloud will serve 365 days in the Chisago County Jail.

The prison sentence was stayed for five years as long as he complies with the following conditions: pay a $5,000 fine; abstain from all non-prescribed, mood-altering substances, including alcohol, and submit to testing; enter and successfully complete adult sex offender treatment and after care programming; submit to polygraph testing as requested by supervising agent; take all prescribed medications; comply with mental health programming as directed; and other terms.

In addition, Cloud is neither to possess pornography nor own or possess any device that allows access to the Internet without approval from probation. Any computer or cellphone found in Cloud’s possession will be subject to search for pornography, and there is to be no unsupervised contact with minors unless approved by a therapist or probation agent.

Cloud also must submit a DNA sample and register as a predatory offender, as required by statute, and remain law abiding. If probation is revoked and Cloud serves prison time, there will be a five-year period of supervised release, Reiter explained.

According to the complaint:

In late December 2011, an officer with the Minneapolis Police Crime Lab used an undercover investigative software to discover about 136 known or suspected child pornography files that were available for download from a host computer running peer-to-peer software. The officer was able to download six files containing sexually explicit digital images of young girls, appearing from ages 6 to 16, from the host computer at a specific IP address.

On Jan. 11, 2012, an administrative subpoena was sent to the Internet provider, which reported Cloud as the subscriber of the IP address at issue. About four months later, the officer, along with several other law enforcement authorities, executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence in Harris.

Cloud acknowledged he lived alone and no one else had access to the computers or other electronic equipment at his residence. He acknowledged, too, that he installed the peer-to-peer program on his computer and used it to download images of child pornography. He estimated that thousands of images and videos of child porn, mostly involving children ranging from ages 3 to 14, would be located on discs in his possession.

During the search, several computers, hard drives, floppy disks, flash drives and other items were seized from the residence. Later, a forensic examination of the items revealed a total of 6,647 suspected images and files of child porn on various hard drives and optical discs.

The files containing suspected child pornography were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for known victim analysis. The center’s initial comparison report identified 1,616 images and videos that depict at least one child previously identified by law enforcement.

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