A Burleson man who accessed child pornography on a website that was being operated by authorities as part of a sting operation was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison on Thursday.
Daryl Glenn Pawlak, 39, was convicted in July of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of access with intent to view material containing child pornography involving a prepubescent minor, according to court records.
Pawlak spent more than 14 hours accessing child pornography on his computer from an illegal members-only darknet website called Playpen, authorities said.
After the FBI discovered that Playpen was being run within the United States, the federal government seized the website’s server and operated the website during a two-week sting operation.
Pawlak was caught during that operation after agents deployed software that identified the user and tracked images of underage girls in sexual situations with grown men to Pawlak’s two work-issued computers, authorities said.
In an interview with agents, Pawlak admitted to looking at child pornography. He registered with Playpen in 2014 but had been accessing child pornography on the internet since 2012, he told agents, according to authorities.
“Contrary to innocent-sounding names, websites like Playpen facilitate the sexual victimization of children with ruthless efficiency,” John Parker, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement Thursday.
The owner and operator of Playpen, Steven W. Chase, 58, of Naples, Fla., was sentenced to 30 years in prison in May, according to the FBI.
Chase launched Playpen in the summer of 2014. In December 2014, a foreign law enforcement agency noticed that Chase had slipped up and revealed Playpen was based in the United States and the agency notified the FBI.
This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.