Federal court

Former Miami firefighter faces long prison sentence on Internet child-porn conviction

 

The FBI monitored a file-sharing network and discovered a former Miami firefighter was downloading child pornography as the station.

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A former Miami firefighter could be spending the prime of his life in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of downloading videos of child pornography at his station.

Alexander Rousseau denied on the witness stand that he was responsible for downloading the videos of young girls engaged in sexual acts, but the 12-person Miami jury apparently did not believe him at his trial last week.

Rousseau, 30, could face between 20 and 30 years in prison at his sentencing on Sept. 24, because of the numerous videos found on his laptop computer of prepubescent girls engaged in explicit sexual activity.

U.S. District Judge Michael Moore might also find that he obstructed justice by committing perjury during his testimony, which would lengthen his sentence.

Rousseau, who joined Miami Fire Rescue in 2007, was convicted of six counts of receiving and possessing the videos on his laptop at Miami fire station No. 6, where he was assigned. Rousseau, who was arrested in April while on duty at the fire station on the corner of Northwest 36th Street and Seventh Avenue, has been detained without bond at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami.

“Obviously, Mr. Rousseau and his family are very disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” his defense attorney, Joel DeFabio, said Monday. “Now we need to concentrate on minimizing his prison term under the sentencing guidelines, which are excessively punitive.”

Rousseau’s type of cyber-crime has become increasingly common in the internet age, with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies teaming up to root out child-porn offenders through surveillance, chat rooms and sting operations. Perhaps the most notorious offender in recent memory was South Florida’s past special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Anthony Mangione, whose career, ironically, was built in part on investigating Internet crimes against children.

Punishment for such offenses has been recognized as especially harsh, drawing criticism from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which establishes guidelines for judges and advises Congress on penalties.

“Although still only a small percentage of the overall federal caseload [nationwide], child pornography prosecutions have grown significantly during the past decade and now account for nearly 2,000 federal cases each year,” the commission noted in a 2013 report.

“Several penalty enhancements in the guidelines for child pornography offenses, such as use of a computer, now apply to typical offenders,” the report said. “As a result, prison sentences for defendants convicted of federal child pornography offenses have almost doubled in the last decade to approximately five years for possession and 11 years for receipt and distribution.”

The FBI uncovered Rousseau’s unlawful activity last December, when an agent found a computer on the ARES peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing network with folders containing suspected images of child pornography, according to a criminal complaint. An FBI agent identified the computer’s Internet Protocol address and downloaded eight files of suspected child-porn videos.

A law enforcement database check showed that the targeted Internet Protocol address had been spotted on the ARES P2P file-sharing network since June of last year. Most of the time the computer accessed ARES after 8 p.m., often after 10 p.m., and ended before 4 am.

The FBI agent then learned that the account was registered with Comcast Communications, the Internet service provider. With a subpoena, the agent pinpointed the physical address of the subscriber, which led to Miami fire station No. 6.

With a search warrant, federal agents and Miami police found a laptop computer at the station: an Acer Aspire.

The laptop “was on and running on the bed in one of the individual sleeping quarters for the employees,” the complaint said. The file sharing program “running on the laptop, including a list of active downloads in progress at that moment.” A wallet containing Alexander Rousseau’s Florida driver’s license was found on a table next to the bed where the laptop was sitting.

That discovery led FBI agents to Rousseau, who was listed as working at the fire station on all of the dates and times when the Internet Protocol address had accessed the file-sharing network.

According to the criminal complaint, the videos portrayed girls under 12 engaged in graphic sexual activity with adult males.

At the fire station, Rousseau agreed to be interviewed after waiving his Miranda rights, according to the criminal complaint.

“Although he did not admit to searching for the videos, he admitted that he had downloaded and viewed some of them,” the criminal complaint said.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category