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FORMER YOUTH MINISTER PLEADS IN CHILD PORN CASE

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By Carol A. Clark

Former Los Alamos youth minister Matthew Nichols has pleaded guilty in federal court to distribution of child pornography.
The plea deal comes on the heels of a months-long investigation where forensic examinations revealed 1,465 images and 186 videos depicting child porn were captured on his computers.
Authorities said Nichols, formerly employed at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, entered a plea agreement Friday before U.S. Magistrate Daniel Schneider. Nichols, 58, faces 15 to 40 years in prison at sentencing.
The investigation surrounding Nichols began in September 2009, following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office about an e-mail address that had been used to transmit child pornography, which was traced to Nichols’ home and church computers.
In December 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents leading the investigation confiscated Nichols’ home computer and the church computer he used, informing church leaders that it would not be returned if it contained child pornography.
Nichols served as director of youth and family ministry at the church since 2003.


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