Cape Elizabeth volunteer firefighter pleads guilty to child porn

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A former Fire Department captain and heavy equipment operator for the Public Works Department has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

According to U.S. District Court documents, Ronald O’Brien, 38,  signed a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney for the District of New Hampshire on Feb. 15.

Theresa Leppard of the U.S. attorney’s office said O’Brien’s case was handled in New Hampshire because of a conflict of interest in the the U.S. attorney’s office in Maine.

According to a press release, the charge against O’Brien was the result of an investigation by Immigration and Custom Enforcement. O’Brien was confronted in October 2008 by ICE agents who had reason to believe he had purchased images of child pornography from a website infiltrated by ICE agents.

Court documents indicate authorities confiscated O’Brien’s computer and 27 computer discs at his South Portland home. They found more than 600 images of child pornography.

O’Brien pleaded guilty to one count of possessing material relating to child pornography and faces up to $250,000 in fines, 10 years in prison and lifetime probation. His sentencing is scheduled for July 5.

According to a statement released by Town Manager Mike McGovern, a family member met with Fire Chief Peter Gleeson to turn in O’Brien’s keys and radio on Friday, April 8. The relative also met with a public works supervisor.

McGovern said O’Brien was sent a termination notice on Tuesday, April 12, “based the fact that he is now incarcerated and is unavailable for work.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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