Crime

Police say Kennewick man possessed and dealt massive amounts of child porn. He denies it

Daniel Bunch court appearance for child porn charges

Accused child pornography distributor Daniel Bunch, 39, make his preliminary appearance with his defense attorney Norma Rodriguez before Judge Jacqueline Shea-Brown in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick.
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Accused child pornography distributor Daniel Bunch, 39, make his preliminary appearance with his defense attorney Norma Rodriguez before Judge Jacqueline Shea-Brown in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick.

A Kennewick businessman pleaded innocent Tuesday to five felony counts alleging he downloaded, possessed and dealt in child pornography.

Daniel J. Bunch, 39, is accused of amassing a very large stash of child pornography images and videos on hard drives connected to his store’s computer network.

He was arrested early Thursday outside his Kennewick home, after investigators searched the family business, Bunch Finnigan Appliances on East Columbia Drive.

He admitted having remote access to three computers at the store and said he was the only person with that capability.

But he denied being online just hours earlier, as the detectives were in the store and noticed activity on a large, mounted monitor, court documents said.

Charged with dealing and possessing

A laptop was found behind a box on top of a safe. A 3 terabyte (TB) external hard drive connected to the concealed laptop was 99 percent full of child pornography images and videos and a 10TB external hard drive was 2 percent full, according to documents.

The storage capacity of a 3TB drive includes about 600,000 digital photos, 1,500 hours of videos or 750,000 4-minute songs.

Bunch was charged Monday in Benton County Superior Court with three counts of first-degree dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and two counts of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Trial is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Child porn images back to the 1980s

The court documents say all of the crimes were committed on or after June 10, 2010.

The case originated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2017, and a detective with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was brought in last October to help pinpoint where the downloads were happening and who was responsible.

A probable cause hearing for accused child pornography distributor Daniel Bunch, 39, is held via a video link at the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick. District Court Judge Steve Osborne set bail for $200,000.

An FBI agent had made a connection on the internet so that the child pornography files were being provided directly by the suspect.

Some of the identified sexually explicit images may have been captured as far back as the 1980s. They show adults sexually abusing children, from infants into their preteens, documents said.

Bunch is a fourth-generation employee and co-owner of Bunch Finnigan Appliances. He’s worked at the downtown store for at least 23 years, where his expertise was home entertainment and theater systems.

Bunch’s photograph and biography have since been removed from the business website.

Owner ‘visibly upset’ to hear allegations

His father and the store’s owner, John Bunch, responded to the business just before midnight last Wednesday when detectives activated an alarm during their search.

ICAC
The Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force based in Richland includes local, state and federal investigators from around the region.

John Bunch, who reportedly became “visibly upset” when told why detectives were there, said his son Daniel Bunch was the most computer proficient employee and that it was his son’s work area where they found the hidden laptop.

Detectives later compared that laptop to an iPad found in Bunch’s vehicle. Both had the same remote desktop username, court documents said.

An initial search of the properties file of a software program on the laptop indicates that Bunch “has distributed approximately two terabytes of files containing suspected depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” documents said.

Investigators previously told the Tri-City Herald that Bunch can be described as “a big fish in the distribution game of pornography.”

No contact with minors during case

Bunch is locked up in the Benton County jail on $200,000 bail.

The amount was not argued Tuesday because Judge Jackie Shea Brown noted that she has been longtime friends with Bunch’s lawyer, Norma Rodriguez, and she would not hear that issue.

However, the attorneys informed Shea Brown they were in agreement on the amount.

If Bunch posts bail, he must have GPS monitoring. Other conditions include staying off the internet and having no contact with children, including his own child.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.
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