U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Beth Drake announced Friday that a former FBI agent entered a guilty plea in federal court in Rome, Ga., for disclosing confidential information.
Drake said Kenneth W. Hillman III was employed as a special agent in the FBI for the Northern District of Georgia. Hillman was the lead agent of the Northwest Georgia Internet Crime and Child Exploitation Task Force.
The team was created to clandestinely solicit and investigate persons seeking to have sexual relations with children. Task force members, which included members of local law enforcement, used an undercover facility and designated sell phones and computers to lure individuals to an area where they were then arrested.
Task force members used a specialized chat language to talk to suspects online. Nobody was supposed to know about the language, or the group’s methods, without authorization.
Hillman, 47, was accused of disclosing that information to two individuals, identified as E. R. and A. R., neither of whom were law enforcement officials.
He allowed the two individuals to watch task force members as they chatted with suspects, and even allowed them to accompany agents to arrests.
Eventually, he allowed A.R. access to a computer and to the specialized chat language. A.R. engaged with several individuals online who were looking to have sex with minors. Those persons were later arrested.
“Mr. Hillman was not authorized by law to divulge, disclose or make known in any manner the Task Force operation to E. R. and/or A. R., or to allow A. R. to participate in the undercover operation of the Task Force, to possess and operate FBI equipment, to conduct chats, arrests, or otherwise be involved in the operation of the Task Force,” Drake wrote.
If the plea is accepted by the judge, he will render a sentence. The maximum penalty for this offense is imprisonment for 1 year and/or a fine of $100,000.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE