MOLINE — Three law enforcement officers were honored Tuesday for identifying and apprehending a sexual predator preying on young girls across the U.S. and Canada. |
Moline police detectives Ted Teshak and Jeremy McAuliffe and U.S. Secret Service Agent William Shink received Meritorious Achievement Awards at Tuesday's Moline City Council meeting.
Their investigation led to the conviction of Daniel William Becker Jr., 22, of Carbon Cliff, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to the sexual exploitation of minors and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in June to more than 24 years in federal prison.
According to court documents and evidence at hearings, Mr. Becker blackmailed minor females via online social networking websites to send him photographs and videos of them engaged in sexually explicit acts. He also threatened the girls he would publicly post compromising photos of the girls online unless they produced and sent him more photos.
The charges were investigated by the U.S. Secret Service's Quad Cities Cyber-Crime Unit and Moline Police. Detectives Teshak and McAuliffe are special federal officers and can investigate crimes concerning the exploitation of children. They also are trained in and lead all computer forensic investigations for Moline Police.
"It was one of those unusual and unique cases in that it took a very long time," said Detective Teshak. "There has been no investigation in which we've put more hours, and both of us have worked here for 18 years. We are glad we got the opportunity to work on the case and would hope we never have to do another one.
"We know the reality is we will have more cases in the future and more victims who have to be vindicated," he said. "We hope to have success in those cases as well."
The Moline detectives, members of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, were notified in December 2012 of a cyber tip from a website about a Carbon Cliff man seeking photos and videos from a 14-year-old girl in Waterloo, Iowa.
A short time later, Moline police met with a girl who reported being harassed on a social media website by someone trying to coerce her to send photographs. While looking into both cases, officers were led to the same suspect — Mr. Becker — who was using numerous social media sites to find and communicate with victims, the detectives said.
They reached out to Agent Shink, and a search warrant was issued for Mr. Becker's home. Police seized his laptop and phone.
While completing the computer forensics, Detectives Teshak and McAuliffe said they realized there were victims throughout the U.S. and Canada. By the end of the eight-month investigation, they were able to identify 13 victims and knew of at least 10 more they were unable to identify.
According to court documents, Mr. Becker was indicted on eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography.
The detectives said Mr. Becker pleaded guilty to only one count of each crime. The plea agreement remained sealed in online federal court records Tuesday.
"It is always a relief to know we were able to identify some of these female victims and some are now able to seek the help they may need as a result of what happened to them," Detective Teshak said.
Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Detective McAuliffe said children are vulnerable on social media sites that let them meet and chat with people they don't know. Once a predator gets enough information to pressure young girls and boys, they will, he said.
"A lot of parents need to talk to their kids," Detective McAuliffe said, when they want to start using social media. "They need to know not everyone on those sites have good intentions.
"This case can be used to start a conversation: 'Hey, we care about you and don't want you to get hurt.' Hopefully it will help some children so they don't go down the wrong path," Detective McAuliffe said.
Five years after the detectives launched Moline's computer forensics lab, the need for their specialized training becomes more and more critical. "Now, we probably get a case every week involving a cellphone, or computer or something on the Internet," Detective McAuliffe said.
Moline remains the only Illinois Quad-Cities police department with a computer forensics lab. The unit continues to grow and its members collaborate and share resources, the detectives said.
"It is almost to the point there is no crime that does not involve the Internet or use of a computer," Detective Teshak said.
Moline advances wastewater treatment plan upgrade
MOLINE — A planned $47 million upgrade to the North Slope Wastewater Treatment plant will move forward after the Moline City Council approved four items Tuesday.
Aldermen approved an application for a $44.4 million low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and an ordinance authorizing Moline to borrow the funds; a $3.5 million contract with Strand Associates for project engineering; and a memorandum of understanding with the Illowa Construction Labor Council binding the project by an IMPACT agreement.
The water pollution control department will repay the loan during 20 years. The department operates the plant as an enterprise fund, running the North Slope and South Slope sewer plants only on the revenue it generates through billing for wastewater service.
The department will use its revenues to repay the IEPA loan and is contributing $2.9 million in reserves.
Sherrard, IL Details
|(More Print Ads)|