Federal agents on Wednesday arrested a father and part-time actor in Rock Hill after they say he distributed several pornographic images of a child across a Yahoo! email account to a man in Maine over the span of several months.
Officials with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took 37-year-old Daniel Cobb into custody after searching the Wildwood Springs apartment where he was living, said Vincent Picard, Homeland Security spokesman.
Cobb has been charged with transporting child pornography into Maine, according to Craig Wolff, assistant attorney with the U.S. Attorneys Office in Maine. He faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
There are only charges in the district of Maine, Wolff said.
Cobb is in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Task Force and will be extradited to Maine to face his criminal charges, Wolff said. Cobb is represented by a federal public defender.
Its unclear when hell arrive in Maine.
Agents with Homeland Security requested assistance from the Rock Hill Police Department when they swarmed the Springdale Road apartment around 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Rock Hill Police report. They found Cobb, along with two girls, ages 7 and 9. A 38-year-old woman was at the home. Only Cobb was arrested.
Federal court documents show that Cobb had been the center of an investigation by Homeland Security since October, a month after officers with the Portland Police Department in Maine arrested David Edward Muise Jr., 26, who court documents show had been discussing and sharing child porn photos with Cobb since April.
Officials with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police alerted Portland Police that Muise sent pictures of a 5-year-old girl engaging in sexual acts to his girlfriend in Vancouver, British Columbia, according to a court affidavit to support Cobbs search warrant.
They also found pornographic pictures of several other children on his cellphone.
In interviews with police, Muise admitted that he downloaded pornographic pictures of underage children and sent those images to several people using peer-to-peer file sharing devices, such as the Yahoo! Messenger chat service.
One of those individuals was a man he only knew as doyawill, who Muise claimed sparked his interest in downloading child pornography, the affidavit states.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation took custody of Muise, charging him with sexual exploitation of a child.
Meanwhile, a special agent with Homeland Security took Muises phones and laptops to a computer lab for testing. Using a data recovery program, agents found traces of sexually explicit images and conversations Muise deleted from his computer, according to the affidavit.
There they found several Yahoo! Messenger chats between an account believed to belong to Muise and doyawill. In these conversations, the two discussed exchanging photos of children engaging in sexual acts.
Officials performed public record searches for doyawill, connecting it with an email address they found posted on a child pornography barter website. On another laptop Muise owned, they found backlogs of his conversations with daddyplus68, whose email address matched the doyawill account.
Agents asked Yahoo! to preserve all records concerning doyawill. Last week, Yahoo! gave agents the accounts IP address, a numerical label assigned to every computer, and proof that the email account was created in Hawaii.
Scouring the email account, they found several nude pictures of young girls, according to another court affidavit securing a criminal complaint for the U.S. District Court of Maine. They also found evidence that doyawill sent pornographic pictures to Muise.
Tracking the IP address, they identified Cobb as the account holder, learning that he lived in Hawaii for nearly a decade after spending time in the Philippines, where he married. In 2002, he tried to bring his wife into the United States but her passport was denied.
The couple also had a daughter. In 2010, 13 days after Cobb created his doyawill email account, Cobb went to a notary, who he asked to support the issuance of a passport for his daughter.
In conversations with Muise, Cobb indicates that his attempts were unsuccessful, the documents show.
Agents gathered consumer records that showed Cobb lived in Charlotte, where he worked as a part-time actor. Officials combed through his Twitter account and found several tweets expressing his dissatisfaction with his girlfriend, according to documents.
Using Facebook and other public websites, officials identified Cobbs girlfriend as a 38-year-old North Carolina woman. An informant told them that the woman recently moved to a Rock Hill apartment and was living with a man named Dan, records show.
DMV records showed that Cobb drives a Chevrolet Malibu.
Agents on Tuesday began watching the Springdale Road home, eventually spotting Cobb entering the house with two young girls. He also drove a Chevrolet Malibu.
During Cobbs initial appearance in federal court in Columbia, a judge ruled that he would be committed to Maine, where hell be prosecuted.
The state Department of Social Services also will investigate Cobb, a Rock Hill Police report shows.
Federal officials on Thursday would not comment on what they found when they searched Cobbs apartment.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less