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Posted: July 14, 2017 4:16 p.m.

Former FBI Agent Enters Guilty Plea in Federal Court in Georgia

The case was assigned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina for prosecution

COLUMBIA, S.C.  ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Kenneth W. Hillman, III, age 47, formerly of Dalton, Georgia, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Rome, Georgia, to disclosure of confidential information, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1905.  United States Magistrate Judge Walter Johnson, of Rome, presided over the guilty plea hearing and will provide United States District Judge Harold L. Murphy with a recommendation about accepting the plea.  If he accepts the plea, Judge Murphy will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between Aug. 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012, the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) employed Kenneth W. Hillman, III, as a Special Agent in the Northern District of Georgia.  Mr. Hillman was assigned as the lead agent of the Northwest Georgia Internet Crime and Child Exploitation Task Force (Task Force).  This Task Force included other officers assigned from local law enforcement agencies. 

The Task Force was authorized to investigate and solicit, via the internet, persons seeking to have sexual relations with children.  This Task Force used an undercover facility along with undercover computers, government cell phones and specialized internet chat language designed by and known only to the Task Force members to solicit and lure these individuals to the area where they were arrested.

During this period, neither E. R. nor A. R. were law enforcement officers or members of the Task Force.  Mr. Hillman disclosed sensitive, but unclassified, information as to the operation of this Task Force to E. R. and A. R. This disclosure included allowing E. R., on one occasion, and A. R. to view agents involved in the internet chatting with some individuals and allowing them to accompany agents during the arrests of some of these individuals.

Mr. Hillman also allowed A. R. access to a sensitive, but unclassified, undercover FBI computer and the specialized internet chat language used by the Task Force.  Mr. Hillman allowed A. R., using the FBI’s undercover computer and the specialized language, to conduct several chats with persons on behalf of the Task Force.  A. R. recruited several individuals who were looking to engage sexually with minor children to the area.  These persons were 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. 

Ms. Drake stated the maximum penalty for this offense is imprisonment for 1 year and/or a fine of $100,000.

The case was investigated by agents of the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorneys William  K. Witherspoon and James H. May of the Columbia office are prosecuting the case.

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