Crime & Courts

North Pole man gets 20 years in prison for second federal child porn conviction

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: February 5
  • Published February 5

A North Pole man who reportedly bragged about not getting caught with pornography because of his remote location was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release, for receiving child pornography.

A federal jury handed up a guilty verdict in November for Tommy Hanson, 54, after a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline.

In 2007, Hanson pleaded guilty to child pornography possession and served about five years in prison, according to the U.S. attorney's office. He admitted to receiving thousands of images "depicting child sexual exploitation" and backed up the images on CD-ROMs, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

On supervised release starting in 2012, Hanson couldn't possess computers without approval from probation officers; any computers he had could be searched under a condition of his release.

But his federal probation officer, Toni Ostanik, found two laptops, a smartphone, a webcam and a hard drive on a regular visit to Hanson's North Pole home in October 2016, according to a sentencing memo filed in the case.

A forensic search by the FBI turned up more than 6,000 images of children, mostly under the age of 12, the document shows. The search also turned up messages to "a friend in Russia, where the defendant noted that he was 'not allowed to have this computer,' but that the 'feds will never find it because I live out too far [off the road].'"

The case illustrates the challenges of dealing with recidivist sex offenders, said Adam Alexander, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case. Hanson's history with child pornography dates at least as far back as 2005, when he lived in Sitka, the sentencing memo shows.

"It highlights the need for continued supervision for folks who've been previously convicted of this type of offense," Alexander said Monday. "Probations in this instance really did an outstanding job."