A division chief with the La Crosse Fire Department was charged Wednesday for possession of child pornography.
Francis Devine, 52, the department’s division chief of training, appeared in La Crosse County Circuit Court for his initial appearance.
Judge Elliot Levine granted the state’s signature-bond request. Levine gave Devine a $5,000 signature bond and his next court appearance is 10:45 a.m. April 10.
A Wisconsin Department of Justice investigator received a cyber-tip Sunday from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the complaint.
Investigators traced Devine through his IP address and discovered four pictures of naked children and another of a child whose age is unknown, according to police.
Police executed a search warrant at Devine’s home and discovered “numerous items of potential evidentiary value,” including a computer hard drive, according to the complaint.
Devine said he searched for adult pornography but found child pornography, according to the police report. He said he was curious about child pornography and decided to look at other images he believed were child pornography, according to the criminal complaint.
Devine used his laptop as the main device to view pornography, according to the complaint. He also said he viewed adult pornography on his phone but did not watch child pornography on his cell phone or while at work, according to the criminal complaint.
“We have no information that he did anything at work or with city computers,” said Tim Gruenke, La Crosse County district attorney.
If Devine is convicted, there is a minimum sentence of three years imprisonment.
“We are aware of the charges against him, and we take these allegations very seriously” Fire Chief Ken Gilliam said. “We will allow the justice system to work through this matter before any further internal investigation can be completed.”
“Division Chief Devine has been placed on administrative leave. These are serious allegations that are being handled by the proper authorities,” said Jeff Murphy, assistant chief of operations of the La Crosse Fire Department.
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