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Crime & Courts

Tribal police chief faces federal charges alleging child porn possession

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: August 29, 2017
  • Published August 29, 2017

The police chief of the Chickaloon Tribal Justice Department faces federal charges alleging he possessed child pornography.

Matthew Michael Schwier, 34, faces three counts of sexual exploitation of a child – possession of child pornography, according to an indictment filed Aug. 17.

Prosecutors allege Schwier knowingly possessed the illegal materials between October and November 2016.

The government filed a request for Schwier's detainment Friday, including a handful of documents further detailing his alleged crimes and characterizing him as "violent and controlling."

In the request, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Reardon wrote that law enforcement officers identified a computer with files of child pornography at a home in Wasilla. On May 1, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Schwier's home and seized multiple devices including an encrypted hard drive, Reardon wrote.

A forensic examination of the devices uncovered videos with children as young as 3, prosecutors said. The encrypted hard drive allegedly showed signs of sophisticated "wiping software," used to delete evidence of online viewing of child porn, they said.

Each count against Schwier carries a sentence of up to 20 years. Court records show he made an initial court appearance in Anchorage a week ago, represented by Palmer-based private attorney Darryl Jones.

Reached by phone, Jones said the case is in its early stages and declined to comment.

The request for detention indicates Schwier is still employed as the police chief for the Chickaloon Tribal Justice Department. Chickaloon is an unincorporated community in the Mat-Su Borough that's home to about 250 residents. An official with the tribe could not be reached Tuesday.

An investigation by the Alaska Police Standards Council says Schwier never should have been given the job. His job history precluded him, prosecutors said.

"(Schwier) has been a sworn law enforcement officer for four separate police departments," Reardon wrote. "From three of those he has been fired or not retained."

In Phoenix, Schwier made derogatory comments about female supervisors, and surreptitiously recorded a conversation with his female sergeant, the APSC investigation documents say. In South Dakota, he was terminated following an excessive-force investigation, according to the documents.

The police standards council's investigative report says Schwier was certified as a police officer on May 4, 2015, by then-council director Kelly Alzaharna. The certification was improper, as the council "lacked the authority and jurisdiction to certify officers of the Chickaloon Tribal Justice Department as police officers; that agency does not fall within Alaska's statutory definition of a police department," the report says.

Notwithstanding that alleged impropriety, the whole investigation into Schwier began in August of last year when a former boss contacted the council. Nome Police Chief John Papasodora relayed that he'd fired Schwier back in May 2012, according to the investigative report.

Papasodora wrote in an email to Bob Griffiths, executive director of the council, that he'd fired Schwier two weeks prior to the end of a yearlong probationary period. He said one of the reasons for the termination was the discovery that Schwier failed to disclose information about his resignation from the Phoenix Police Department.

Prosecutors argued Schwier was a danger and a flight risk. Trial is currently set for Oct. 16.

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