Boston (MA) - A former Massachusetts state worker has been vindicated of child pornography charges after investigators said a computer virus was responsible for automatically downloading dozens of illegal pictures. Michael Fiola, formerly of the Department of Industrial Accidents, was fired in 2007 after department IT staff found child porn on his work laptop. Later in the year, he was charged with possession of child pornography.
Back in November 2006, Fiola was issued a laptop with Windows XP SP2 installed. The laptop had the typical anti-virus software installed, but Tami Loehrs, a computer forensic investigator hired by the defense, said the laptop was improperly configured. This prevented virus definition updates from installing which eventually led to the laptop’s infection.
Apparently a shoddy laptop setup was the main catalyst to this infection. The laptop had been used by another employee and according to Loehrs, the laptop name was simply changed when it was given to Fiola. This caused the laptop to stop receiving virus and software updates via the department’s update server.
According to Loehrs, a computer virus caused the laptop to scan approximately 40 sites every minute and riddled the browser’s cache file with hundreds of images. Prosecution investigators concurred with Loehrs and all charges were dropped.