CHICAGO - A former Chicago school principal, whose home computer contained hundreds of illegal images of child pornography when he was arrested, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison following his guilty plea. This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Dr. Joseph Nurek, 57, was sentenced Sept. 4 in federal district court by U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen to 20 years in federal prison, the statutory maximum, on one count of receiving child pornography. Nurek was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and participate in a sex offender rehabilitation program. Nurek also agreed to pay about $500,000 in restitution to his child-abused victims for counseling and other treatment.
Nurek was employed as a principal at the Chicago International Charter Schools West Belden Campus when ICE agents arrested him in March 2004 after executing a search warrant at his Chicago residence. A forensic exam of his home computer revealed hundreds of images of child pornography involving young boys engaged in sexually explicit activities, and multiple videos containing child pornography.
In June 2004 Nurek was indicted on eight counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. In October of that year Nurek was indicted by a grand jury on additional charges that he transported minors across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity. He pleaded guilty in December to one count of receiving child pornography, but yesterday's sentencing took into account all the conduct contained in the charges against him. Nurek had been held in federal custody without bond since October 2004.
"ICE is committed to bringing all of its law enforcement resources to bear on cases like this that involve the greatest violations of public trust," said Elissa A. Brown, special agent-in-charge of the office of ICE investigations in Chicago. "We've made it an agency priority to stop individuals from using the Internet to abuse and exploit innocent children. ICE is committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves, and the victims of child sexual exploitation are at the top of that list."
Nurek's arrest is part of a global ICE child pornography investigation that focused on an Internet billing company based in Minsk, Belarus, and its affiliated entities in the United States. In January 2004, the Belarus firm was charged with money laundering, as well as providing credit card billing services for 50 child pornography websites worldwide and operating child porn websites on its own. After dismantling the leadership of the enterprise, ICE agents turned its focus to customers who purchased child pornography subscriptions, including Nurek.
Nurek's arrest and prosecution were part of Operation Predator, ICE's comprehensive initiative to safeguard children from foreign national pedophiles, international sex tourists, Internet child pornographers, and human traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 10,000 individuals nationwide, including more than 540 in Illinois…