A Baltimore Police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of possession of child pornography and will serve at least four years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Federal prosecutors say Sgt. James Robert Wissmann IV, 35, of Baltimore, had been suspended from the Baltimore Police Department since a search warrant was carried out at his residence in July 2019. He was charged through a criminal information in March, and was not identified at the time as an officer.
He remains employed and suspended without pay, a police spokesman said.
“The department is following state law and currently moving forward with appropriate action,” the department said.
In his plea, Wissmann admitted to creating accounts on a mobile application that allows users to join a “room” where they can message, video chat, watch videos and images, and share files, and used the accounts to distribute and receive files of child pornography and to discuss the sexual exploitation of children.
The administrators of the app shut down his accounts and reported them to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Prosecutors say Wissmann continued to create new accounts, using fake names and e-mail addresses, and continued to share child porn.
As detailed in his plea agreement, Wissmann took a variety of steps to avoid detection by the online platforms and law enforcement, including using a Virtual Private Network account, the Tor anonymity network, and using file-wiping programs to permanently delete files.
On July 31, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant at Wissmann’s residence and seized his laptop computer, removable digital media, and mobile phones, which they say he used to commit the offense. During a forensic examination of the seized items, investigators found images and videos of child pornography on Wissmann’s laptop, including images depicting prepubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Prosecutors say his plea agreement calls for him to receive no less than four years in federal prison, followed by a supervised release period of 10 years. He will also have to register as a sex offender. He will be sentenced in October.
Wissman has been a city police officer since 2008, and was paid $100,000 in 2019.