Timothy DeFoggi was once the acting chief of cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services. Now he's just another porn addict about to go to prison.
August 30, 2014

File this in your very thick chapter of "Stuff You Can't Make Up." Before his arrest, this guy was the acting Director of Cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services. Holy God, am I ever glad he was out of there before Obamacare registrations started or Republicans would have had a field day.

Politics aside, I'm really glad they got him, because he's a textbook case for why prisons exist. His lawyer argued it was all free speech and besides, maybe it wasn't him who was typing those horrible things. Except it was him guarding his laptop like a fool in the middle of an FBI raid.

He thought he was anonymous because he used a Tor login, but he wasn't. That's Anonymous 101, by the way. Tor users are still discoverable. It might be harder, but it's certainly not impossible.


But DeFoggi—convicted today in Nebraska on three child porn charges including conspiracy to solicit and distribute child porn—must have believed his use of the Tor anonymizing network shielded him from federal investigators.

He’s the sixth suspect to make this mistake in Operation Torpedo, an FBI operation that targeted three Tor-based child porn sites and that used controversial methods to unmask anonymized users.


DeFoggi became part of that sting after becoming a registered member of PedoBook in March 2012 where he remained active until December that year when the FBI shuttered it. During this time DeFoggi, who described himself as “having many perversions,” solicited child porn images from other members, viewed images and exchanged private messages with other members expressing interest in raping, beating and murdering infants and toddlers.

Among those with whom he corresponded was an FBI undercover employee. During chats DeFoggi described using Tor to access PedoBook early in the morning hours and between 4 and 6 pm. Among the evidence seized against him was pen register/trap trace data obtained from Verizon showing someone at his Maryland residence using Tor during these hours as well as the IP addresses used by an AOL account under the username “ptasseater,” which pointed to DeFoggi’s home.

When agents arrived at his home early one morning to execute a search warrant, they had to pry him from his laptop, which was in the process of downloading a child porn video from a Tor web site called OPVA, or Onion Pedo Video Archive. In addition to child porn images stored on his computer, authorities also found evidence of his Tor browser history, showing some of his activity at PedoBook and OPVA.

DeFoggi received many commendations during his government career, according to an exhibit list created by the government for his trial. The list includes several certificates of award from the U.S. Treasury, a certificate of appreciation from the State Department for his work on a Hurricane Katrina task force, several documents related to computer courses he attended and certifications he received.

It's interesting to see the reaction of the right wing to this. They use it to make a case for the evil of government even though there's no evidence he indulged in his perversion on the taxpayer's dime, even as they defend the right to free speech, no matter how odious.

I hope they throw away the key.

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