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Testimony centers on activities of former deputy
State rests its case
-pruitt scott
Scott Pruitt - photo by Submitted
GAINESVILLE — Questionable Internet searches, a barely audible recording and graphic images of child pornography are among the evidence federal prosecutors have presented this week in their case against a former Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy.

Milton Scott Pruitt, 41, of northeastern Forsyth County, stands trial on charges that he knowingly received child pornography on his work computer and knowingly received and possessed child pornography on his home computer.

Pruitt, who was fired in 2007 and a year later ran unsuccessfully for sheriff, faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted.

The prosecution wrapped up its case Wednesday morning, with the defense beginning a short time after that.

On Tuesday, Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Allen testified that Pruitt was not authorized in March 2007 to look at electronic files that belonged to another investigator’s case.

“There was some reason he was accessing images of child pornography while he was out in a patrol car,” Allen said. “We decided to initiate an investigation and contact

the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation].”

In previous testimony, County Information Technology Director John David “J.D.” Rusk said he discovered in April 2007 that Pruitt used his county-issued account to open various electronic images of child pornography kept in a case file under sheriff’s investigator Jeff Roe’s name.

The images were numbered but not named. Rusk said Pruitt accessed them remotely from his county-issued laptop computer.

Roe testified Tuesday that the images were in a folder titled “possible CP unallocated files.” He explained that CP stood for child pornography.

There was little reaction from jurors as they briefly looked over printed copies of the images during Roe’s testimony.

Roe said that while working in the criminal investigations division, Pruitt was assigned to general investigations and did not work on any child pornography cases.

By March 2007, Pruitt was no longer an investigator, having been reassigned as a sergeant to the sheriff’s uniform patrol division.

According to Allen’s testimony, though, Pruitt was able to access the files because he was still responsible for cases he had worked on while he was in CID.

Allen said he asked Pruitt about the images in a May 16, 2007, interview with GBI Special Agent Bobby Stanley.

“I asked him what his interests were in Detective Roe’s files and his response to me was ‘curiosity,’” Allen said.

He added that when he asked Pruitt why he opened more than one file, Pruitt answered “just stupidity.”

Ann Fitz, one of Pruitt’s two attorneys, took issue with Allen’s testimony.

She argued that the defense’s transcript of the recorded interview did not include Allen’s questions. She also asserted that there were discrepancies between her transcript and that of the prosecution.

Allen later said he had recently reviewed the recording and determined that he did ask Pruitt about the images.

U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley allowed the recording to be played while the jury used the prosecution’s transcript as a guide.

Muffled by static, the 37-minute recording was barely understandable. Stanley explained the recorder was in his lapel pocket during the interview.

Stanley, who handles network intrusion, or “hacking,” and child pornography cases, testified that he asked to interview Pruitt after Rusk and Allen showed him what Rusk found.

Stanley said the images Pruitt opened were of prepubescent boys and girls, some of whom were naked and engaged in sexual acts.

He said a preview examination of Pruitt’s work laptop did not produce evidence of child pornography and a four-point analysis of the computer did not show that any questionable files had been deleted.

However, Stanley said, he was able to confirm Pruitt accessed Roe’s files by remote from his laptop while at a business in south Forsyth and that Pruitt had used several media storage devices to download images from the laptop.

Pruitt admitted to looking at the files in Roe’s case for several reasons including “stupidity” and “being curious,” Stanley said.

He said Pruitt voluntarily brought his personal desktop computer to him later that day and agreed to allow Stanley to examine it.

Pruitt was one of two users that had accounts on the computer. He said Pruitt used the HP Administrator account and was the dominant user.

Stanley said he found evidence that a county-issued media storage device had been plugged into the computer as late as May 15, 2007.

Pruitt agreed to turn in the device, but never did and investigators never found it, Stanley said.

He said further examination of the computer showed that the HP Administrator account was used to search keywords on the Internet that included “young nude girl,” “young nudes girl,” “prepubescent boy,” “nude little boy” “preteen” and “nude she-male.”

Stanley said 20 of the more than 250 pornographic images found on the computer were confirmed by the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children as photos of identified children.

He testified that he did not question Pruitt’s then fiancee, Kim McAfee, about the images. The couple has since married, but was living together at the time.

Fitz challenged Stanley’s testimony that he found evidence of questionable Web sites on Pruitt”s home computer on certain dates. She presented evidence showing that on two of the dates Pruitt was clocked in for eight hours of training.

Stanley confirmed her assertion that other people living in the house could have used the HP Administrator account on the computer.

He also agreed that child pornography was not found saved or labeled on the computer’s hard drive, nor were there e-mails regarding the transmission or sharing of such images.

Stanley said Pruitt also had access to two other computers in the home, but those were not searched.

In addition to the assertion that Pruitt accessed files belonging to the sheriff’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, the indictment contends that between October 2006 and May 2007, Pruitt used a media storage device seized in a criminal investigation without authorization.

Pruitt was fired May 17, 2007, from the sheriff’s office amid the accusations against him. He failed in the July 2007 appeal of his termination to the county’s civil service board.

He was indicted on the federal charges in August 2008 and on the local charges a few months later.

E-mail Julie Arrington at