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Sleepy Eye man faces 15 felony charges

SLEEPY EYE — A 46-year-old Sleepy Eye man faces 12 felony counts of possessing child pornography and three felony counts of disseminating child pornography in Brown County District Court.

Charges were filed April 7 against Chad L. Zeig, 116 Rice St. N.W., Sleepy Eye. Bail was set at $100,000 without conditions, $50,000 with conditions.

Zeig’s release conditions include not entering the victim’s residence, no contact with victim(s), or with persons under age 18, no possession/use of any pornographic/sexually explicit material, and no violations of an active civil/criminal no contact order. An initial court appearance was set for 11:30 a.m. April 19.

According to court documents, a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) special agent called Sleepy Eye Police at 1:49 p.m. March 25, about a cyber tip they received about Zeig. The agent said BCA analysts completed multiple subpoenas and were confident Zeig uploaded child porn images to Kik (an instant messages mobile app) on or about Jan. 7.

Police reviewed BCA information including tracing images to Zeig’s IP address, phone number, Sleepy Eye address and confirmed the Verizon cell phone number belonged to Zeig.

Information from the BCA showed Zeig uploaded images Jan. 7, and Kik reported it Jan. 8. The BCA began working on the case Jan. 22.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Kik Messenger listed Zeig’s email and stated the user uploaded/shared video/image file(s) with another user or group of users.

The investigator confirmed the Facebook profile the BCA found in its investigation belonged to Zeig, whom the investigator knew lived in Sleepy Eye based on past contacts with him.

Police confirmed the images of females were prepubescent and a violation of the child pornography statute.

Police signed a search warrant for any electrical devices at Zeig’s residence and Zeig’s person at 8:04 a.m. April 5.

At 5:35 p.m. April 5, local area law enforcement went to Zeig’s residence where he admitted there was “a little bit” of child porn on his phone. When asked how long this has been going on, Zeig stated, “a long time.” He was arrested for possession of child porn.

Zeig waived his right to remain silent and told investigators he exchanged child porn on and off. He admitted using the Wickr app for about one to one and a half years and as recently as last week.

In addition, Zeig admitted he sent images to a person who sent him images in return. Investigators told Zeig they viewed about 99 images on his phone.

When asked about Kik, Zeig told law enforcement he was banned from Kik and could not recall how many images he sent and received on it.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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