Thursday, June 20, 2024

The John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston. (Photo: Sam Bayard via Flickr)

A Melrose man and Cambridge municipal employee has been charged in connection with possessing and receiving child sexual abuse material.

Patrick Baxter, 42, was charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Baxter was arrested on Dec. 7 and appeared the next day in federal court in Boston.

Conditions of release set Monday put Baxter under home detention and subject to location monitoring, barring him from contact with people under the age of 18 or from frequenting any place there might be children. While he is technically able to work, according to the conditions, he must explain the pending charges to his employer – the city’s Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department, where he’s an engineer. That includes limitations “as they relate to computer use”; one condition is that he cannot “access the Internet unless authorized by U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services” or possess any computer or other device capable of connecting to the Internet, including tablets, phones, televisions or gaming consoles.

Baxter downloaded illegal material from the Internet twice, in June and July 2021, according to a charging document. A computer hard drive seized during a search of his home held approximately 427 illegal video files, officials said.

His home was searched Nov. 2, 2021, and an encrypted hard drive was retrieved. The FBI decrypted it around Oct. 17 and sought the arrest warrant Dec. 7, officials said. He was arrested in his office’s parking lot at 344 Inman St., according to The Somerville News Weekly.

The Department of Justice said a charge of receipt of child pornography provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years in prison; at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release; and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of possession of child pornography provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison; at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release; and a fine of up to $250,000.


John Hawkinson contributed to this report.