Friday December 7, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- A Hinsdale, N.H., man who was arrested on charges of distributing child pornography was identified by the use of an online sting orchestrated by the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force.

According to court documents posted late Thursday, a Washington, D.C., detective was acting as an undercover agent for the task force when he created a Craig's List ad on Nov. 15, in which he identified himself as a 42-year-old "taboo dad."

Three days later, the detective received a message from a person who was later identified as Benjamin Maes, 31. Between then and Nov. 29, Maes allegedly e-mailed several images containing child pornography to the undercover detective.

Using a data image tool, it was determined that the pictures had been recently taken.

An administrative subpoena was issued for a Yahoo! e-mail account, which revealed the IP address of a computer in Williamsburg, Va. A review of the IP log history revealed the account had been accessed multiple times on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29 from two different IP addresses, both of which were issued by Verizon Wireless.

Another administrative subpoena was issued, this one to Verizon, and an investigation revealed both IP addresses were gateway addresses that were being accessed by a mobile device, with a phone number in Williamsburg, that was traced back to Maes.

According to court documents, Maes owns a home in Williamsburg, but is not currently listed as a resident there. In May 2011, stated the documents, Maes bought a home in Hinsdale, where he is listed as a resident.

Investigators then accessed Maes' Facebook account and compared his self-portrait photos to images in the e-mails sent to the undercover detective, positively identifying Maes.

On Nov. 30, shortly after the Hinsdale Police Department received information that a child was in imminent harm, Maes was arrested on a federal arrest warrant. He was arraigned in federal court in Concord, N.H., on Dec. 3.

Hinsdale Police Chief Todd Faulkner said Maes will also soon be charged at the local level with one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault against a child.

Maes is a 1999 graduate of Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisc. According to his Facebook page, Maes listed his employer as the U.S. Navy.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.