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Greenport Village official arrested on child pornography charge

A Greenport Village official was arrested on a federal child pornography charge Wednesday morning, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District Court of New York.

David Corwin, 72, a member of Greenport’s Zoning Board of Appeals and former village trustee, was charged with possession of child pornography. During a virtual arraignment Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Corwin was granted release under “myriad conditions” that include a $300,000 bond for his Main Street home, where he will remain on house arrest and subject to random visits and monitoring. He appeared virtually before Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Mr. Corwin was first visited by a pair of federal agents from the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force on Thursday, March 18, according to the complaint. The FBI was acting on a tip from an international law enforcement agency that said someone using a computer at Mr. Corwin’s home had accessed a “dark web” site used for child pornography in April 2019.

During the agents’ March 18 visit, Mr. Corwin, who lives alone, allowed the investigators to search six computers found in his home, which he called stations, the complaint states. On a laptop, Mr. Corwin open a “dark web” browser that had live chatting capabilities he referred to as a “pedo chat.” On that same computer, an agent observed three open tabs containing graphic sexual images of young girls believed to be 5 or 6 years old, the agent said in an affidavit. A second computer contained files of even younger children and an open tab on a third computer showed an open inmate search of a convicted sex offender Mr. Corwin described to agents as “infamous in my world.”

The FBI returned with a search warrant for Mr. Corwin’s house Wednesday morning, law enforcement sources said. He was brought into custody around 7 a.m.

Megan Farrell, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said during the arraignment that FBI officials recovered additional electronic devices, including a new laptop, that Mr. Corwin secured after officials had seized his devices on March 18. He also allegedly created a new Instagram account, Ms. Farrell said. FBI officials also recovered parts they believe could be used to build a computer. In his basement, 15 marijuana plants were also recovered.

Mr. Corwin co-owns the Main Street home with his brother, Kirby Corwin, who lives in Alaska. They inherited the home from their parents. Kirby Corwin agreed during the arraignment to sign onto the bond and risk his interest in the home to grant his brother’s release.

The judge, in discussing Mr. Corwin’s bail conditions, said the risk has more to do with computers than a flight risk. Mr. Corwin’s legal aid attorney said he does not own a passport. As part of the bail conditions, he cannot apply for one or even leave the area of the Eastern District of New York, which includes all of Long Island.

The terms of his house arrest allow him to leave for a meeting with his attorney, doctor’s appointment or to get groceries. Any of those instances would require him to notify pre-trial services in advance. He’s not permitted to contact anyone under the age of 18 either in person or on the Internet.

“There’s nothing to suggest he poses any sort of threat to the community,” said Randi Chavis of Federal Defenders, who represented Mr. Corwin during the arraignment. 

Ms. Chavis requested he have access to a computer to be able to complete tasks such as banking. After a lengthy discussion about how that access would work, the judge allowed Mr. Corwin use to one device, either a computer or phone, which will be monitored. He’s required to pay all costs associated with monitoring. 

Mr. Corwin has been in contact with a private attorney, who was on the arraignment call, but has not yet secured that representation.

A neighbor, who did not wish to share his name, described the scene of Wednesday’s raid as both federal and local law enforcement “were everywhere and people were carrying bankers boxes out of the house.”

“It’s unfortunate,” said Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr., who said he was unaware of the arrest until contacted by a reporter. “This is shocking.”

Mr. Hubbard said Mr. Corwin had already announced his intention to step down from the ZBA at an organizational meeting next week.

The arrest of Mr. Corwin marks the second child pornography bust the FBI has made in town in the past month, though there is no indication the two cases are related.

Damon Rallis of Southold was charged with distribution of child pornography on Feb. 23. A grand jury indicted Mr. Rallis on Tuesday for four counts of distribution of child pornography and a charge of possession of child pornography in relation to “one or more videos or images” found on his iPhone at the time of the Feb. 23 FBI raid, according to the indictment.