Former Border Patrol Agent Keith E. Hook pleads guilty

Oswego man admits to possessing, distributing videos of child sex abuse

SYRACUSE — Former Border Patrol Agent Keith E. Hook pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography and will be sentenced by a federal judge later this year.

Hook, 55, of Oswego, was arrested at his Oswego residence almost exactly one year ago after local law enforcement executed a federal search warrant, during which police allege Hook admitted to sharing child pornography. He faces at least five and up to 40 years in prison for possessing and sharing pictures and videos of underage individuals engaged in sex acts, according to prosecutors.

Hook will also face a term of post-release supervision of at least five years and up to life and a fine of up to $250,000. Hook will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Federal officials condemned and lamented the former Border Patrol agent’s actions and praised the work done by federal law enforcement agencies in the case.

“It is a sad day when a federal agent sworn to protect the public violates that duty in such a profound way, said United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith in a statement. “Hook exploited the most vulnerable members of our community, our children, by trading child pornography both on and off duty. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners, Hook will now be held fully accountable for his despicable conduct.”

United States District Judge David N. Hurd will sentence Hook on Oct. 24.

Investigators from multiple bureaus of the Department of Homeland Security last year discovered 138 images and four video files depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct on Hook’s personal tech devices including an iPod, according to court documents. At least 10 video files and over 200 image files saved in his iCloud storage account and another three images stored on his laptop computer were seized by federal agents.

In a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Baxter last year, Hook was ordered to remain in custody, with the court saying that “no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community.”

“If released, the defendant will pose a substantial danger to the safety of others and the community through continuing offenses involving distribution of child pornography and sexual exploitation of minors,” read the order of detention.

The court also said that Hook presented a “serious risk of flight” because “of the substantial criminal penalties he faces, his proximity to the U.S./Canadian border and his knowledge, as a former Border Patrol Agent, of various means to cross that border without detection by law enforcement.”

According to police documents, Hook was snared in a sting operation through online chat apps.

Undercover agents established contact with Hook after allegedly witnessing an online persona associated with Hook seeking out child pornography, according to a description in court records of the sting operation.

Hook initiated a private conversation on the messenger application Kik with an undercover agent, police said, and over the course of five days from April 30 to May 4 of last year, Hook allegedly both requested and provided child pornography to the undercover agent.

Authorities then sent summonses to the owners of the Kik instant messenger app to provide information on user “capnhook1064,” alleged to be Hook. Using information gleaned from Kik combined with data from Hook’s Internet service provider, police say they identified Hook and “capnhook1064” as the same person.

Hook allegedly told the undercover agent that he developed an interest in incestuous relationships “many years ago” and over the years, he started to seek out “younger and younger” victims.

Police said Hook searched for, obtained and shared pornographic images of children as young as three years old from a variety of locations, including allegedly while on a Border Patrol training mission in West Virginia and while on shift as a Border Patrol agent in Oswego.

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