A former employee of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was sentenced to a decade in prison Thursday after being earlier convicted on charges of possessing and accessing child pornography.
David Busby, a 61-year-old Richmond resident and former computer support employee at the lab, was convicted of the child pornography-related charges after a three-day trial in Oakland on Sept. 19. He was also sentenced to 10 years of supervised release following his prison sentence.
Busby’s sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for Dec. 17 but was postponed, likely due to a sentencing conflict, according to a spokesperson from the United States Attorney’s Office. The statutory penalty for Busby’s case was a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years, with fines.
According to evidence from the trial, child pornography was detected by a network security analyst at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, an affiliate of the lab, on the center’s computer network, April 20, 2010. The child pornography was then isolated to Busby’s work computer. Busby’s laptop and other work computers were confiscated, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
A forensic examination of these computers discovered about 1,400 deleted images in unallocated space on his computer, meaning they had been deleted but were still discoverable with close forensic examination.
Initially, Busby admitted to downloading the images and holding them for a brief period before deleting them from his computers. During the trial, the defense claimed the images were downloaded accidentally while Busby attempted to view legal child modeling websites.
The prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lewis, used the high number of images found on Busby’s computers to disprove the defense’s claim that he destroyed the images “in good faith,” which is part of the statutory affirmative defense — a method used to disprove child pornography allegations based on the amount possessed and how promptly the files are destroyed.
The prosecution also cited Busby’s previous admissions to law enforcement as evidence he was guilty of intentionally downloading the child pornography.
According to the California Department of Justice’s sex offender locator website, Busby had previously been found to have performed lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.
This trial and subsequent sentencing was the result of an investigation launched by the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General, UCPD and the FBI.
Staff writer Mitchell Handler contributed to this report.