A South Portland man who served as a Cape Elizabeth fire official and public works employee faces up to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography.

Ronald O’Brien, 38, was charged by federal officials after authorities seized a computer and 27 computer discs from his home in August 2008. The seized items contained more than 600 sexually explicit images of children.

O’Brien pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement last week.

A statement issued by Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Michael McGovern on Wednesday said O’Brien was terminated from his job Tuesday because he is incarcerated and cannot report to work. The town became aware of the charges when one of O’Brien’s family members turned in his fire department radio and keys last week, the statement said.

O’Brien had served as a heavy equipment operator for the public works department since 2000 and has been captain of Engine 1 for several years, the statement said.

O’Brien also faces a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for July 5.

He was prosecuted and entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H., because of a potential conflict of interest that may exist in the Maine federal court system. Officials would not elaborate on the potential conflict and it was not explained in court papers.

O’Brien worked one day last week, then called in sick the following two days, McGovern said. A family member who was very distraught notified the public works supervisor and turned in O’Brien’s fire radio and keys.

Although the town issued a letter of termination Tuesday, it is effective at the end of this week because of accrued vacation time, McGovern said. 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
[email protected]

 


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