Lemoore sailor charged in child porn case

The Fresno BeeJune 18, 2014 

A sailor stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station is under arrest and faces federal charges of receiving child pornography, sending obscene materials to minors and sexual exploitation of a minor.

Michael Brandon Kiper, 29, was charged last week, according documents in U.S. District Court in Fresno.

But his first court appearance will be in federal court in San Diego, and it could be several weeks before he's brought to Fresno, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Before his arrest last month by the U.S. Marshals Service, the Navy issued a bulletin that he was wanted for desertion. Now he's in the brig at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

The Navy isn't commenting on the investigation, Lemoore base public affairs officer Melinda Larson said.

The case started in early January in Pennsburg, Pa. when a 14-year-old girl sent an explicit photo of herself via Kik text messaging service to someone named "James White" -- later identified as Kiper, court documents said -- who threatened to post it online if she didn't send him more pictures.

The girl told her mother, who called police.

The teen told police she'd been contacted via text message by someone claiming to be an agent for a modeling company.

Police reviewed the girl's text messages, and that she'd asked White if she could "wait till June and I turn 15" to start "modeling." He responded, "Why wait when you can do it now? You're lucky I still have an open spot," court documents said.

Using a subpoena, police traced the Internet address receiving the explicit photo to Kiper's dormitory room at Lemoore Naval Air Station, and notified the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

On May 1, NCIS agents seized several electronic devices from Kiper at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada, where he was temporarily assigned, and from his dorm room in Lemoore.

Two iPhones, two laptops, one iPad, an external hard drive and a SanDisk memory card were seized, court documents said.

Kiper invoked his constitutional rights and refused to be interviewed. That day, he drove away in his car, leaving his uniforms and possessions, and was listed as an unauthorized absence.

A few days later, he was traced to Colby, Kan., through his Armed Forces Bank debit card. On May 27, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him in Enos, Okla.

His wife, who is not named in court documents, told investigators the two have been separated because he drank too much, had online interactions with females and had a affair with an 18-year-old.

Three additional underage victims -- in Virginia, Indiana and Ohio -- have been found, court documents said.

Kiper, originally from Big Bear Lake, enlisted nine years ago.

He is a second class petty officer and a master at arms involved in security and protection who has served in Lemoore, Bahrain, San Diego, Silvervale, Wash., and San Antonio.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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