A Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent undercover investigation led to the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of a pedophile from Palm Beach, Florida. United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Christopher P. Canova, announced that Nicholas E. Fogarty, 36, was sentenced to 27 years in prison on July 17. In addition to the prison sentence, Fogarty will be a registered sex offender for the remainder of his life.
The case, according to U.S. Attorney Canova, began in June 2017. Homeland Security Investigations had no involvement at first. The case was brought to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by a Special Agent with the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and a member of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) who had been investigating users of a Kik group titled “Tweenteenlove.” Redacted court documents revealed that an AFOSI Special Agent had created a Kik account for a non-existent minor female.
They had not been using the account to identify a specific pedophile in the group, the court documents indicated. But once the AFOSI Special Agent and North Florida ICAC member had reached a point in their investigation where they needed further assistance in the owner of the Kik group, they requested assistance from the Pensacola HSI agent who helped end the case.
In the Kik group, adults—both male and female—targeted and sought out other pedophiles with a similar interest in minor girls between the ages of 11 to 15-years-old. Encouraging vulnerable minors to become members of Kik pedophile groups is a theme many pedophile groups share. The group Fogarty created proved no different; the group members were encouraged to invite girls who would be particularly likely to join and post content. Fogarty made one rule regarding the treatment of any girls in the group: no one could ever message a girl without permission.
The HSI agent joined Kik, and became a member of the Kik group owned by Fogarty, and quickly climbed the ranks. He documented the group’s activities including the messages they sent to the undercover AFOSI Special Agent (posing as the minor girl), the videos they posted, and other information useful in an investigation. The agent quickly learned that Fogarty found the content he posted on unknown darknet child abuse sites. He then downloaded the content to a Dropbox account that he shared with the Kik group.
The information from a series of subpoenas to Dropbox, Google, and Comcast was enough for a judge to issue a search warrant for Fogarty’s home. Law enforcement discovered nearly 5,000 pictures and videos of child abuse that matched content posted in the Kik group chat. A jury convicted Fogarty on March 13, 2018 for distributing and advertising child pornography.
“This case underscores the important work of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and HSI is proud to be part of such an effective team,” Special Agent in Charge at HSI Tampa, James C. Spero, told the press.