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Charges: Arden Hills man had more than 50 child porn files on phone, hard drives

The images and videos include victims under the age of 13, authorities said.

Investigators searching the phone of an Arden Hills man "almost immediately" uncovered "numerous images of obvious child pornography," according to recently filed criminal charges.

Brennan Johnson, 22, was charged Monday in Ramsey County with three felony counts of possession of child porn. Two of the counts refer to victims under 13 years old.

The case unfolded early this year, when Twitter notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of potential child pornography, uploaded to the service from a Gmail account tied to a Minnesota IP address, according to the charges. The center then connected with the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to advance the case.

According to the criminal complaint:

Investigators, after confirming some of the images appeared to show child pornography, identified the IP address as belonging to an apartment in Arden Hills. One of the uploaded images also showed a video game on a laptop screen, with the player shown in a square in the corner. That player, authorities say, was Johnson.

A Google search of the Gmail user name also showed the same moniker attached to a gaming site, with "Brennan Johnson" listed as the owner.

On Feb. 25, 2021, authorities executed a search warrant at the Arden Hills home. Johnson, who was there, initially denied any involvement. After investigators shared their evidence, he admitted to downloading and possessing child porn, but claimed he had deleted everything and hadn't look at that type of material "in a while."

Law enforcement officers found Johnson's cellphone in his bedroom. He gave them permission to search it, and authorities "almost immediately" found "numerous images of obvious child pornography." Between the phone, a laptop and two external hard drives that were seized, investigators uncovered 46 images and five videos of child pornography.

The materials were provided to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which finished its analysis and report on Sept. 13. They determined four of the images and one video showed victims that are known to law enforcement, including girls determined to be about 6, 7, 10 and 14 years old in the images.

Two days later, an investigator reached out to Johnson saying they needed to talk. There was no response. Johnson was arrested Sept. 17.

Johnson's first court appearance was Monday, and he was released on his own recognizance, according to online court records. His next hearing is set for Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

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