North Las Vegas mayor couldn't figure out why his iPad is full of child porn -- so he had police wipe it clean

Former North Las Vegas police chief comes clean about corruption, and it doesn't look good for Mayor John Lee

Published May 8, 2015 8:01PM (EDT)

Former North Las Vegas police chief Joseph Chronister retired on Thursday -- so, naturally, he's decided to spend his new free time disclosing stories of widespread municipal corruption.

One such story involves North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who allegedly received special treatment from law enforcement when he reported that some child pornography mysteriously appeared on his iPad last year. According to Chronister and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Lee contacted the police for help after receiving (he claims) an email containing "kiddie porn," which he wanted to make go away. So, it seems the police helped the mayor do just that -- despite the fact that, after a day-long investigation, a detective could find no evidence of the email in question.

Via the Review-Journal:

In his report, the detective said he found no emails having to do with porno­graphy of any kind but did find links to three pornographic websites in the iPad’s browser history. Two of the sites were not illegal, the detective determined, but the third showed pornography organized by the country where the images originated. He said the site looked illegal.

“I did locate several possible photos that could be considered child porno­graphy, but since they were in a different country, I could not verify the age of the people pictured,” the detective wrote. [...]

Chronister said his understanding, based on conversations with the detective, is that the mayor’s explanation about pornography associated with an email couldn’t have happened as the mayor described.

Finding nothing he could prove illegal on the iPad, the detective took it to an Apple Store and had it wiped clean the next day, according to the report. In his report, the detective said an Apple employee told him that a deleted email would no longer be on the device.

Former FBI agent and computer crimes expert Joseph Dooley, who spoke with the Review-Journal, was baffled by the series of events, and basically called bullshit on the detective's report. "If he thinks it’s child porn, it’s child porn," Dooley said. "It doesn’t matter what country it’s in. That sentence makes no sense to me."

He also criticized the police's failure to seize Lee's iPad as soon as they learned it might contain illegal material. "If you suspect you have child porn on the device, that’s like having a kilo of cocaine sitting on your coffee table," Dooley explained, adding that it was "bizarre" for the mayor not to bring his own device to be wiped.

As for Chronister, he conceded it's "a good question" why his investigators didn't press further to figure out why Lee's story didn't add up, or to determine if there was additional child pornography on the iPad or any of the mayor's other devices. The former police chief also admitted that he "maybe" should have been the one to push the detective to dig deeper.

"If there should have been a more thorough and in-depth investigation then I guess that’s my fault, maybe, for not telling the detective to go on," Chronister said. "I’m not an expert in this arena at all, and I have 100 percent confidence in the work that our detectives do. I absolutely do."

Well, I guess that's that then. Oh, wait -- the mayor had something to add, naturally. Lee told the Review-Journal that the only thing he knew about the matter was that his iPad was returned to him, clean and supposedly free of illegal content. But even if there had been illegal content on the device, it certainly wouldn't have been his.

"As far as I know there were people who were doing evil to children," Lee said. "I don’t have anything to do with that sin."

(h/t Gawker)

By Jenny Kutner

MORE FROM Jenny Kutner