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Baltimore SWAT officer from Harford County faces federal child pornography charges

Federal prosecutors have charged a Baltimore Police SWAT officer with possession and production of child pornography, alleging they uncovered videos and images as well as evidence indicating he had accessed a site where such content is exchanged for cryptocurrency.

Donald Hildebrandt, 51, was first arrested last fall after members of the Harford County Child Advocacy Center were told that Hildebrandt had assaulted a minor. The additional evidence — including that Hildebrandt possessed the address of a web site described as a “safe zone for pedo folks” — was uncovered after a search warrant was executed at his Bel Air residence, according to court documents.

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He was ordered detained pending trial in state court, but remains employed with the Baltimore Police Department and suspended without pay, per state law.

After seizing Hildebrandt’s electronic devices, prosecutors say a forensic examiner decrypted a file found on Hildebrandt’s laptop computer and discovered videos allegedly documenting the sexual abuse of a minor female.

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Another nearly three-hour long video discovered on Hildebrandt’s laptop depicted a compilation of multiple instances of child sexual abuse, according to the charges. Additionally, over 100 still shots believed to be derived from covert video recordings allegedly taken by Hildebrandt were uncovered by investigators, prosecutors said.

In January 2021, a witness informed investigators that Hildebrandt had reset his tablet, prosecutors say. A forensic review of the previously seized tablet showed signs consistent with a factory reset.

In Hildebrandt’s iCloud account, analysts also discovered a web address to an anonymous communication network within Hildebrandt’s notes application, which opened to a child pornography website. The website allowed customers to anonymously purchase child pornography with cryptocurrency.

Hildebrandt has been a Baltimore Police officer since 2006. His public defender, representing him on state charges pending since the fall, declined to comment.

If convicted, Hildebrandt faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for production of child pornography; plus additional penalties for an obstruction of justice charge.

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