Ed Kramer. (Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office)
Photo: Tyler Estep
Photo: Tyler Estep

Hacking probe leads to new child porn charges for DragonCon co-founder

The investigation into a courthouse hacking saga involving DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer has produced a new charge, prosecutors said Monday: child pornography.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said about five pornographic images were discovered among the mountains of computer data GBI officials are pulling from Kramer’s computer in connection with the ongoing hacking case, which has also ensnared a private investigator and a sitting Superior Court judge.

The GBI took out a new warrant Monday afternoon charging Kramer — whose long, complicated legal history includes a 2013 child molestation plea — with a single count of possession of child pornography. The warrant describes one image in detail and said “additional digital image files were found of child sexual exploitation.”

“In some ways nothing about this case ever surprises me,” Porter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was not surprised when I was notified there was child pornography on the computer.”

Kramer’s attorney, Stephen Reba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The new charge was filed shortly after Kramer, who was removed years ago from the popular sci-fi convention he helped start, appeared in a Gwinnett County courtroom to ask to be released from jail following his recent arrest in the hacking case.

Judge David Sweat did not rule on the bond motion during Monday’s hearing. Kramer’s new charge is likely to make his decision more complicated — and it adds yet another layer to an already complex series of legal proceedings.

On Sept. 18, Kramer, private investigator TJ Ward, Ward’s employee Frank Karic, and Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader were all indicted on three counts of felony computer trespass.

Investigators with the GBI believe that Schrader hired Ward earlier this year to investigate her concerns that Porter was trying to hack into her computer. It remains unclear why Schrader believed that was the case and Porter has vehemently denied the allegation.

According to authorities, Ward tasked Karic with installing a WireShark monitoring system on the judge’s computer and then tasked Kramer — who has worked as a computer forensic analyst — with tracking the activity.

Indictments accuse the quartet of using that access to interfere with, remove data from and otherwise “alter” Gwinnett County’s computer network.

Ward, Karic and Schrader have all bonded out of the Gwinnett County jail since their arrest.

Kramer had remained incarcerated — even before the child porn charge was filed.

The hacking case came to light when authorities seized Kramer’s home computers following a Feb. 26 arrest for allegedly taking a photo of a young boy at a Lawrenceville doctor’s office. Following that arrest, Kramer was let out of jail and placed under house arrest at his Duluth home, where he wore an ankle monitor and had no internet access.

In the bond hearing held prior to Kramer’s newest charges being filed Monday, attorney Stephen Reba asked for his client to be released back to house arrest.

“Nothing has changed since May,” when prosecutors and the defense both knew that the hacking indictment was coming, Reba argued in court.

About two hours later, Kramer’s new charge proved Reba wrong.

“It’s strange that there have been a series of cases that have come in rapid succession,” Porter said. “And one wouldn’t have happened without the other, but they’re essentially unrelated.”

Court records show Kramer and his three hacking case co-defendants are scheduled for arraignment in that case on Oct. 10.

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