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Soldier stationed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago pleads guilty to lying in child porn investigation

Richard Ciccarella was in charge of all White House communications for the U.S. Army at Mar-a-Lago.
Image: Mar-a-Lago
The Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 21, 2019.Al Drago / Reuters file

A staff sergeant who led the U.S. Army's communications detail at President Donald Trump's club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, admitted to lying to federal officers during a child pornography investigation.

Richard Ciccarella, 34, was alleged to have posted photographs of a young relative with the caption "dirty comment's [sic] welcome" on a Russian message board between November 2017 and February 2018, according to court documents.

The posts allegedly made by Ciccarella were linked to a Yahoo email address, which the soldier denied belonged to him when federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security first questioned him at President Trump's club in Palm Beach in March 2018.

Ciccarella, who received numerous commendations for his military service and deployed to Iraq twice, was in charge of all White House communications for the U.S. Army at Mar-a-Lago as a telecommunications operations chief from August 2017 to March 2018. He enlisted in the military at 19.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Schiller said the photos that Ciccarella allegedly uploaded did not constitute child pornography, but they along with his lie were certainly reason for concern.

“Here the lie and the obstruction was to cover up an email address to cover up a much bigger investigation that was going on,” Schiller said, according to the Palm Beach Post.

In a federal court ruling filed late on Friday, Ciccarella pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federal officer about whether the email address belonged to him.

He was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, a prohibition against using data-encryption software and a requirement that he allow his computer to be periodically examined, according to the decision in the court for the Southern District of Florida. He also may not come in contact with children under the age of 18 or the victim, and he must also undergo sex offender and mental health treatment.

The ruling also limits his use of firearms.

“This was the last place I thought I would be,” Ciccarella said, the Palm Beach Post reported. “I will forever regret my actions."