Texas Playpen Member Found Guilty of All Charges
Like dozens of the defendants caught in the FBI’s “Operation Pacifier,” 39-year-old Daryl Glenn Pawlak fought the case with vigor. He opposed the FBI’s use of the NIT that connected his username to his company computer. He first accessed “Playpen,” the child sexual abuse forum, in August 2014, according to a grand jury indictment returned in 2016.
Between August 2014 and May 2015, Pawlak logged 14 hours on the website. The indictment has a list of some of the file names of the child abuse media accessed by Pawlak. For instance, one file was named “abeob*****178.jpg,” and had been vividly described by the FBI as abuse against a 6-year-old.
For accessing and downloading the child “pornography,” the man was not worth a two-count indictment. Authorities charged Pawlak with two crimes: “Possession of Child Pornography Involving a Prepubescent Minor” and
“Receipt of child Pornography.”
He fought the FBI on their “outrageous conduct” and their refusal to reveal the NIT’s code. The presiding judge agreed with the FBI regarding the NIT discovery; the exploit was not material evidence. The government had already prepared for every one of Pawlak’s motions to suppress the FBI’s evidence. In one example, the agent who had planned to testify fell ill prior to the hearing. More than a month prior. Yet the government made sure, months in advance, that the agent would get a chance to testify.
The FBI gathered ample evidence against Pawlak with a simple phone conversation; they had executed a warrant at his home and he was not on the premises. So, they called him. They asked if he knew about Tor. He responded by admitting that he did and that he knew it was “pretty big” regarding child sexual abuse sites. He admitted that he was aware of “quite a few” of these sites on the darknet.
He volunteered even more information; he told the FBI that he “probably” accessed Playpen with the username “notsoslow.” A week before the phone call, he told the FBI that he found another illegal website of the same nature. And that he accessed the website from his work computer. He “thought” his account on the computer was “[d.pawlak].”
The FBI contacted Pawlak’s place of employment and found the man’s assigned laptop. The operating system, username, password, and Mac address as the one identified by the NIT. They found forensic artifacts that indicated the computer’s owner had downloaded 800 explicit images and then attempted to scrub the machine.
A recording of the phone call was provided to the jury. They found him guilty of both charges. He will be sentenced in October.