COURT NEWS: KEY HOGAN OFFICIAL MATHEW PALMER INDICTED ON FEDERAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY DISTRIBUTION CHARGE
Former Maryland State Government Official Pleads Guilty to the Distribution of Child Pornography
Baltimore, Maryland – Mathew Palmer, age 44, of Severna Park, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to the distribution of child pornography. At the time of the conduct, Palmer held positions with the Maryland state government, including as Deputy Legislative Officer for the Maryland Governor’s Office and Chief Operating Officer with the Maryland Department of Commerce.
The records showed that the messaging application account had also been accessed by IP addresses that resolved to the State of Maryland, demonstrating that the user was accessing the materials from state government Internet services.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
“The exploitation of children is a serious threat and problem that has grown over the course of the pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner. “Individuals like Palmer who trade and possess this illegal material online are essentially facilitating an underground criminal market. This case should serve as a reminder that law enforcement will pursue anyone who endangers children, and that no one is above the law.”
“No crime affects us more deeply than the sexual abuse of innocent children. Those who trade exploitative material participate in and perpetuate that abuse,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge James Mancuso. “HSI will utilize all available resources and authorities to investigate and seek prosecution of those who harm and exploit children.”
According to his plea agreement, investigators at HSI received reports from an instant messenger application advising that multiple accounts using similar usernames, that all included “anonjohnny” as part of the name, had uploaded at least one image of child pornography or child-sensitive material between April 2019 and September 2019. Each time the application detected the child exploitative material, it shut down the offending account.
Investigation revealed that the same Internet Protocol address (IP address) was used to access the five “anonjohnny” accounts and was serviced by the same cellular service provider registered under Palmer’s phone number, e-mail address, and home address in Severna Park, Maryland. The records showed that the messaging application account had also been accessed by IP addresses that resolved to the State of Maryland, demonstrating that the user was accessing the materials from state government Internet services.
On August 11, 2020, investigators executed a search warrant at Palmer’s residence in Severna Park and seized several electronic devices, including Palmer’s laptop and personal cell phone. Palmer’s cell phone was also linked to his office e-mail address. Palmer’s phone was logged into a new “anonjohnny” account on the instant messaging application. Palmer admitted that he used this account to engage in chats with several other users concerning child exploitation.
For example, in a conversation with one user, in his very first message Palmer said, “Hi I have naughty thoughts about my teen daughters.” Palmer then sent the user images of two minor girls whom Palmer represented were his daughters. In fact, these minor children were not Palmer’s children. In a conversation with a second user, Palmer stated that his preference was for children aged eight and up. Palmer again sent pictures of two minor girls, falsely representing to the second user that they were his own daughters.
At least 936 images and 368 videos of child pornography were found on Palmer’s cell phone, including prepubescent minors; child pornography involving toddlers; and child pornography involving bondage and other sadistic acts.
In addition to possessing hundreds of images and videos constituting child pornography, Palmer admitted that he both received and distributed child pornography. Palmer had an application on his phone which is used to send covert and encrypted messages. Palmer possessed two additional videos of child pornography on that application, and the evidence showed that Palmer used that application to distribute a video of child pornography to a chat group of 58 people. Palmer’s phone also included several links under the “notes” section to active child pornographic websites.
As detailed in his plea agreement, Palmer will be required to register as a sex offender where he resides, is an employee, and is a student pursuant to the sex offender registration and nonfiction act (SORNA).
Palmer faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of twenty years in prison for the distribution of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher has not yet scheduled sentencing.
ANNAPOLIS, MD. – A senior Hogan Administration official who vanished from state government with all the efficiency of an invisible man from the movies and television has suddenly reappeared when indicted by the U. S. Attorney on child pornography charges filed in U. S. District Court in Baltimore on January 28, 2021.
In addition to disappearing from the Hogan Administration in mid-2020, his domestic situation has also been whisked away by the near-miraculous speedy stroke of the pen of a Circuit Court Judge. Maryland court cases, especially during the Covid Pandemic, have a way of moving with the speed of dripping molasses in the middle of winter.
Mathew John Palmer is charged with a felony count of distribution of child pornography and is represented by David B. Irwin of Kramon & Graham, P.A., in Towson, Maryland.
A comment on the charges was received by THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY from Irwin. “It’s obviously a very serious case,” said Irwin, “It’s at the very early stages, but we hope to come to a resolution with the government.”
The case is assigned to United States District Court Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher.
Irwin has been selected to appear on Super Lawyers numerous times and is a specialist in criminal defense and white-collar crimes. The profile on his firm’s website notes that he has handled cases of national and international interest, including the representation of a former currency trader for Allied Irish Banks (Allfirst Bank), and a former U.S. civil servant who played a pivotal role in the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal. The prosecutor listed on court records is Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Alan Loveland Jr.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued this statement in 2016 when appointing Mathew John Palmer as a chief lobbyist to the General Assembly:
Governor Larry Hogan announced two new appointments within his Executive Staff: Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio as Deputy Chief of Staff and Mathew Palmer as Deputy Legislative Officer. Haddaway-Riccio will replace current Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Richard, who is being nominated for an appointment to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Palmer succeeds Patrick Hogan ahead of the upcoming 2016 Legislative Session.
Palmer joins the Hogan administration having previously served as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce since 2012.
In addition, Palmer has served as Associate Director of State Affairs for the Johns Hopkins University/Johns Hopkins-Health System, and as Chief of Staff to former Maryland State Senator E.J. Pipkin.
He has also served as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Employee Benefits Committee, the Tech Council of Maryland Legislative Committee, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance Board, and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee.
“Mathew Palmer is an accomplished and well-rounded professional who possesses a deep understanding of the legislative process and issues,” Governor Hogan continued. “I am proud to welcome him to our administration and look forward to working with him during this upcoming session.”
There wasn’t too much to say about Palmer when his absence was noted by a reporter for the Daily Record.
The Daily Record reported on August 14, 2020: “A senior official within the Maryland Department of Commerce has resigned suddenly and without explanation. Mathew Palmer, who joined the agency as chief operating officer in June, resigned Aug. 12. A Commerce spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the departure. “Mr. Palmer has resigned, and is no longer on the state’s payroll,” said Karen Glenn Hood”.
There doesn’t appear that any reporters for the Daily Record or the Baltimore Sun followed up on the sudden departure of the Hogan officials as the top stories of the year of the presidential election, riots across the nation, and the eternal corruption of Baltimore City politicians kept them all very busy.
Top Executive Post for Palmer
Hogan promoted Palmer early in 2020 to the post of Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Department of Commerce where he was paid a salary of $120,000 annually for the executive position in the Maryland government.
Uncontested Divorce, Name Change for Child Speed Thru Courts
Maryland Court records show that Robyn Palmer filed for limited divorce from Mathew John Palmer on August 20, 2020, and in one of the fastest divorces on record in Maryland, the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court approved the joint motion to seal the court file on September 3, 2020, amended the uncontested action to an Absolute Divorce and issued a final Judgement granting the request on December 4, 2020. Robyn Palmer has filed for a name change for a minor child in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.
Palmer now lists an address at the home of a relative in the town of Berlin, Md., and federal court records are unclear if he is in custody or was able to post bail. The Palmers purchased their Severna Park home in 2014 for a half million dollars and property records reflect the property is still listed in both names.
Palmer, while not appearing to have a criminal record, which likely was researched when he joined the Hogan Administration, that may change now that he faces serious prison time, should he be convicted.
The Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit coordinates the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. This is a combined law enforcement effort involving police departments across Maryland that is made possible in part due to grant funds provided by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, and by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Taskforce investigators focus on identifying those involved in child pornography via the Internet and other related crimes that victimize children.
Palmer faces serious prison time if convicted
The Department of Justice provides this information on the crimes that Palmer is charged:
Federal jurisdiction is implicated if the child pornography offense occurred in interstate or foreign commerce. This includes, for example, using the U.S. Mails or common carriers to transport child pornography across state or international borders. Additionally, federal jurisdiction almost always applies when the Internet is used to commit a child pornography violation. Even if the child pornography image itself did not travel across state or international borders, federal law may be implicated if the materials, such as the computer used to download the image or the CD-ROM used to store the image, originated or previously traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.
In addition, Section 2251A of Title 18, United States Code, specifically prohibits any parent, legal guardian or other person in custody or control of a minor under the age of 18, to buy, sell, or transfer custody of that minor for purposes of producing child pornography.
Lastly, Section 2260 of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits any persons outside of the United States to knowingly produce, receive, transport, ship, or distribute child pornography with intent to import or transmit the visual depiction into the United States.
Any violation of federal child pornography law is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face severe statutory penalties. For example, a first-time offender convicted of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison. A first-time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252, faces fines and a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison. Convicted offenders may face harsher penalties if the offender has prior convictions or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations defined as (i) the images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature, (ii) the minor was sexually abused, or (iii) the offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation. In these circumstances, a convicted offender may face up to life imprisonment.