Southampton man indicted on child pornography charges seeks case dismissal

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SPRINGFIELD – A Southampton man charged in federal court with distributing child pornography filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the case on grounds that the foreperson of the grand jury that indicted him was not legally qualified to serve because she was an assistant district attorney, according to court documents.

Bruce Singer, 71, who is a retired New Jersey police officer, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield in March 2017 to five counts of distribution of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Singer served on the Paramus Police Department in New Jersey from 1972 to 1999.

The U.S. Attorney’s office accused Singer of distributing and receiving electronic child pornography files between April 2013 and June 2015. The office alleges Singer possessed more than a dozen child pornography files. 

He was arrested in June 2015 as part of a joint investigation undertaken by the Massachusetts State Police, who worked alongside local authorities in Easthampton and Southampton, according to Northampton District Court documents. Officials investigated people they believed were communicating through Craigslist — a classified advertisements website — about exchanging child pornography, court records show.

The motion to dismiss the case alleges that the grand jury’s foreperson was employed by the Hampden County district attorney’s office which also assisted in investigating the allegations, according to documents filed by Singer’s attorney, Alan J. Black. Court documents do not name the grand juror involved. 

“The Defendant contends that there is a strong likelihood that the relationship between the United State Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office existed,” Black wrote.

Black argues that an assistant district attorney is not legally qualified to be a grand juror because of likely bias in favor of the prosecution, adding that the actions and goals of a district attorney’s office and a U.S. attorney’s office are the same – “to prosecute those charged with violating criminal statutes.”

“Even the most honest and well-intentioned individual would have difficulty maintaining impartiality on a subconscious level, given his or her day-to-day, employment-based immersion in the law enforcement environment,” Black wrote. “There is no good basis for assuming such a natural pull towards partiality would not also influence an assistant district attorney.”

The motion also states that because of the grand juror’s employment, she would have had access to the investigation and information regarding any prior convictions or open cases that Singer may have had, according to court documents.

Singer’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 21.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.