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Riker's Island investigator Fernando Clarke of East Meadow, charged with downloading child pornography, officials say

Corrections Department officer Fernando Clarke leaves federal court

Corrections Department officer Fernando Clarke leaves federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, after being arraigned on charges of possessing child pornography. Credit: James Carbone

An East Meadow man who is an investigator with the New York City Department of Corrections, was charged Wednesday with downloading child pornography from the Internet, officials said.

Fernando Clarke, 61, was arrested by agents of the federal Department of Homeland Security and city Department of Investigation at his home, according to Eastern District federal prosecutor Allen Bode.

Clarke told the agents that he knew accessing child pornography was illegal but considered it was part of his job in order "to immerse himself to learn about the aberrant behavior," court records said.

But at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, prosecutor Bode said the claim was "ridiculous" and that Clarke's supervisor said he was not authorized to investigate child pornography.

Clarke was suspended from his job at Riker's Island, the prosecutor said. He was not required to plead to the charge.

Clarke, who faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison if convicted, was released on $250,000 bond, pending future hearings.

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