Anthony Mangione child porn sentencing: Ex-Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief in court today

Faces a mandatory five years in prison

The former local chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had up to 150 pieces of child pornography on his personal laptop and used his expertise to wipe the computer clean, according to federal court documents filed this week.

The revelations came on the eve of Anthony Mangione's Friday sentencing for e-mailing child pornography to a former school bus driver in Delaware. He faces a mandatory five years in prison with federal prosecutors seeking a sentence of a little more than seven years.

As the Special Agent in Charge of ICE's South Florida office, Mangione had been one of the leading local crusaders against child pornography, regularly vowing to hunt down people who exploit children. That facade crumbled when the FBI and Broward Sheriff's Office searched his Parkland home in April 2011 after a tip he was transmitting illicit images of children.

The decorated law enforcement officer was arrested in September 2011, pleading guilty in July to a single child pornography charge. Federal prosecutors allege Mangione possessed images of "extreme abuse of children," including some involving children as young as 3 years old.

When Mangione, 52, goes before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to learn his fate, he may only have his attorney there to support him. In a letter to the judge, Mangione's wife said that Mangione has asked his family members and friends to stay away from the court hearing to protect them from media attention.

Those who know Mangione are still wrestling with why the 27-year law enforcement veteran would throw away his career, reputation and freedom to view child pornography. He was caught the same way countless child pornography suspects have been — his Internet provider detected illicit images in his e-mails and alerted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Mangione's attorney, David Howard, wrote in a court filing this week that someone who is sexually attracted to children suffers from a mental disorder that's typically the result of psychological damage caused during childhood. While not detailing any traumatic event in Mangione's life, Howard wrote that the former federal official "lost his persistent struggle against his perversion" for a six-month period in 2010.

He was able to stop himself from continuing to view child pornography in September 2010, months before his home was searched, Howard wrote.

"Mangione successfully overcame his perversion far more than he succumbed to it and not only did he overcome his darker inclinations, but, instead, chose to pursue the honorable undertaking of a career in law enforcement," wrote Howard as he urged the judge to sentence Mangione to no more than the mandatory five-year prison sentence.

Howard wrote Mangione, a father of three, deserves the minimum possible sentence because he will be particularly susceptible to abuse in prison. The defense attorney noted that he had already received a taunting letter from someone Mangione once arrested.

Records obtained by the Sun Sentinel show Mangione sent child pornography to a Delaware man who was found to have a library of more than 700 such illicit images and 500 Internet chat logs with "others regarding child sexual exploitation." In at least two of those chat logs, Mangione pretended to be a mother who was sexually abusing her daughters.

Federal prosecutors wrote this week that while Mangione admitted to possessing child pornography from March 2010 to September 2010, there's no way to know if he truly stopped himself from continuing to handle the illicit images.

Just four days after America Online detected Mangione e-mailing child pornography and shut down one of his accounts, he went to Portugal for training on how to combat child sexual exploitation, according to court records. There, he learned about software programs to wipe clean files and web-surfing histories, wrote Michael W. Grant, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Mangione then installed three wiping programs on his laptop, Grant wrote.

"As such, there is no way to tell what was on the defendant's computer during the time that he utilized these programs," Grant wrote. "Furthermore, even if the defendant did cease using his computer or e-mail to transport these images, there is no way to know if it was because he wanted to stop, was afraid he was going to get caught or simply found other more secure methods to continue his criminal activity."

Federal prosecutors wrote they will present the judge with statements from five of the children in the images that Mangione possessed.

"These pictures of me are everywhere and will never go away, no matter how much I run from them," wrote one girl. "These photos are being distributed and viewed by many different criminals. Every time they are viewed and passed on it feels like a knife in my heart."

More than a dozen of Mangione's family members and friends wrote letters in support of him —describing him

as a man dedicated to his family and his job. A regular churchgoer, he organized fundraisers for the families of fallen law enforcement officers and served on the board of his homeowner's association.

Mangione's sentencing is set for 2:30 p.m. Friday at the West Palm Beach federal courthouse.
 

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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