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Child porn charges for aide to Sen. Boxer

November 14, 2008|Cynthia Dizikes | Dizikes is a Times staff writer.

WASHINGTON — An aide to California Sen. Barbara Boxer was charged in federal court this week with receiving and distributing child pornography.

FBI agents arrested Jeff Rosato, 32, at his Arlington, Va., apartment last Friday. Boxer's office fired him the same day after learning of the charges.

Rosato appeared in federal court in northern Virginia on Wednesday and was released to home detention on the condition he not leave the area without permission. Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis ordered Rosato to refrain from interacting with children and from using a computer and advised him to seek medical treatment.

Rosato began working for Boxer as a legislative assistant in the Democrat's Washington office in 2005. Last year, he became a senior policy advisor and counsel to the Environment and Public Works Committee, which Boxer chairs. His areas of expertise included water infrastructure and endangered species. He also worked under then-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).

"On Friday, the Justice Department informed our office of criminal charges made against a Senate employee," Boxer spokesman Natalie Ravitz said in a statement Thursday. "Sen. Boxer has zero tolerance for crimes against children, and the employee was immediately terminated. Our office is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice in this matter."

Rosato's attorney declined to comment on the case Thursday when reached by phone.

During their search of Rosato's apartment, FBI agents seized four laptop computers, one desktop computer and two external drives. An initial forensic inspection of Rosato's personal laptop revealed about 200 images and several movies containing child pornography and child erotica, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Chad Gallagher.

"Many of the images and videos depict prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts," the affidavit said.

FBI agents tracked Rosato through Google Hello. Rosato allegedly used the computer program to exchange hundreds of pornographic images with another user who had been sharing lewd pictures and movies of children with an undercover detective posing as a 13-year-old boy.

To identify Rosato, investigators subpoenaed Google and Comcast this summer.

Rosato was charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography. Both are felonies.

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cynthia.dizikes@latimes.com

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