Former Charleston-Based NOAA Employee Sentenced to 4 Years Prison for Possession of Child Pornography Involving Prepubescent Minors
Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Clayton A. Norfleet, age 55, of West Columbia, South Carolina was sentenced today in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina, for Possession of Child Pornography Involving a Prepubescent Minor, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(5)(B) and (b)(2). Senior United States District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy, of Charleston, sentenced Norfleet to 4 years of prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on March 22, 2015, a Department of Commerce (DOC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Security Operations Center analyst discovered a computer user onboard NOAA ship Ron Brown, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), connected to an internet relay chat (IRC) website. The website allows users to chat online as well as upload and download images. The website is notorious for a prevalence of child pornographic images and is frequented by pedophiles. The analyst also discovered log files that indicated that the user’s web traffic and website contained entries related to child pornography and pedophilia. Further investigation revealed that the defendant, Clayton A. Norfleet, Electronics Technician, NOAA, OMAO was the user that accessed the IRC website using a government computer while on board the NOAA Ship Ron Brown.
When this incident occurred on March 22, 2015, the NOAA Ship Ron Brown was in the Pacific Ocean and scheduled to arrive in port at Ford Island, Hawaii on May 13, 2015. On May 13, 2015, NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) agents seized the government computer assigned to Norfleet, from the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, which was docked at Ford Island, Hawaii.
A forensic analysis of the government computer indicated that Norfleet logged in using the “Administrator” account and viewed child pornography. Some of the images and videos were stored in the thumb cache. Furthermore, link files associated with child pornography were located on the computer. Forensic analysis also showed Norfleet was utilizing portable web browsers operated from external drives that do not cache any internet history or browser files to the local computer.
On July 14, 2014, DOC-Office of Inspector General (DOC-OIG) agents interviewed Norfleet at NOAA Port Office, located in Charleston. Norfleet admitted that he used the government computer while aboard NOAA Ship Ron Brown to view child pornography on the IRC website, and he admitted he ran portable web browsers from a removable thumb drive. Norfleet then turned over a thumb drive containing child pornography to the agents.
Norfleet also told agents that he had a personal desktop computer at his residence in West Columbia, South Carolina that contained evidence of child pornographic material. Norfleet indicated that he did not have any data stored on his computer but that agents would find “links” to child pornographic material on his computer. Agents then traveled to Norfleet’s residence and seized his personal desktop computer.
DOC-OIG agents conducted digital data analysis on the personal thumb drive and personal desktop computer owned and used by Norfleet. The results revealed 62 child pornography images and 23 child pornography videos, including images and videos involving prepubescent minors.
The case was investigated by agents of the Department of Commerce-Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Dean H. Secor of the Charleston office prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of South Carolina