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Officer allegedly searched for child pornography while on duty

Former Hastings police officer Anthony Miller pleaded guilty Thursday June 18 to two counts of possession of child pornography.

Information released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice revealed the Hastings police officer charged with possessing child pornography allegedly searched for it while on duty.

Anthony Miller, an 11-year veteran of the Hastings Police Department, was arrested at his home in New Richmond, Wis., Tuesday and charged Thursday afternoon in Hudson with possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.

Miller was booked into St. Croix County jail Tuesday night but was released Wednesday on $30,000 bond.

The child pornography charge brings with it a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 25 years in prison. There is a three-year minimum sentence.

The sexual exploitation charge brings with it a fine of up to $100,000, and up to 40 years in prison. There is a five-year minimum sentence.

Miller has been placed on paid administrative leave from the Hastings Police Department.

According to the criminal complaint, Miller allegedly admitted to agents from the Wisconsin DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation that he downloaded, possessed and traded or distributed child pornography for approximately the past two years, consisting of images of girls Miller estimated to be between the ages of nine and 15.

DOJ officials say Miller also admitted he used his personal laptop while on duty, in order to obtain wireless Internet access via unencrypted wireless signals from random locations throughout the Hastings area.

The criminal complaint says that investigators were led to Miller via a January 2008 arrest of an Omaha, Neb., man named Zachary McQuade on similar charges.

A review of data from McQuade's computer led investigators to numerous others alleged to be in possession of child pornography, including Miller. The complaint says investigators found chat logs and 448 images that were exchanged between McQuade and Miller on Nov. 9, 2006.

According to the complaint, the images consisted of depictions of "naked pre-pubescent females whose genitalia were prominently displayed," and of "naked pre-pubescent females performing oral sex on naked males."

During the search of Miller's home Tuesday, Miller allegedly admitted to using an online file-sharing program to trade and obtain pornographic images, and used specific search terms to find them.

The complaint says Miller was shown and acknowledged logs of online chats he allegedly had with McQuade and confirmed they were consistent with his recollection of the exchanges.

Also during the search of his home, Miller admitted to viewing child pornography at his home in the previous week.

Miller was asked for a comment at the St. Croix County Courthouse Thursday but refused.

A hearing was set for 11:45 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 6, so the court could determine who Miller's legal representation would be. He did not immediately qualify for a state public defender, but was given an application for a county appointed attorney.

A preliminary hearing will also likely be scheduled at the Jan. 6 hearing, during which the court will determine if the state has presented enough evidence to proceed further with the case.