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Dave Kolpack, Associated Press, Published June 29 2012

ND warden didn't notify state about prisoner's porn

FARGO – A former warden at the North Dakota penitentiary told federal prosecutors he failed to alert authorities about an inmate’s child pornography case because he was unhappy about the way the state handled crimes at the prison.

The issue came to light in court documents for the case of Damien Breding, who was sentenced Thursday to two years and three months in prison for a crime that happened eight years ago while he was serving a 30-year sentence for killing twin 6-year-old girls.

Breding was disciplined by prison officials for the incident, but it wasn’t reported to state or federal authorities as required by law.

Timothy Schuetzle, the warden at the time, admitted in a letter to the federal court that he purposely declined to alert authorities. Prosecutors said his decision to keep the matter in-house “could have been referred as a violation” of federal law.

Schuetzle, who retired in 2010, had no comment about the case.

“I’m retired. I’m out of it,” he said Friday.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined to comment.

Federal authorities said they found out about the pornography case after reviewing Breding’s file before his scheduled release. Breding was arrested in December on the day he was supposed to get out of prison.

Breding was accused of downloading the pornography in 2002 while working at Roughrider Industries, the prison’s manufacturing operation. The images weren’t discovered until 2004. After an internal investigation, Breding was docked one month’s pay, lost 20 days of television and was restricted to his room for 30 days.

Further investigation discovered that for a six-month period in 2002, inmates who had access to a computer at the prison shop “were inadvertently allowed unfiltered access to the Internet,” documents show.

Breding, now 38, was convicted in the slayings of Jennifer and Jessica Powers, who died when a fire was set to their Powers Lake home in March 1991. Authorities have said that Breding, who was 16 at the time, may have started the fire because he was angry at not being paid immediately for baby-sitting the twins.

Neil Fulton, who heads the federal public defender’s office in the Dakotas, had no comment.

Breding pleaded guilty in January to a charge of receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors. Prosecutors asked in the sentencing memorandum for a 33-month prison term and 10 years of supervised release.

“Breding, as an offender, is a person who viewed the sexual exploitation of children, has a history of sexually related misconduct and admittedly touched children before,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme wrote in the memorandum. “Therefore, Breding will always be a risk to the children of whatever community he resides in.”

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Breding to 27 months in prison with three years of supervised release.

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