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Citizen honored for outstanding contribution: Business owner's son helps crack local pornography case

The West Fargo Police Department made a special honorary presentation to Daniel Hazer on April 2. During an early morning meeting at the Police station, Police Chief Arland Rasmussen presented Hazer with a plaque and certificate of appreciation for his quick thinking and heroic efforts that helped solve a local child pornography case.

According to Detective Derek Cruff, the Police Department had received a call late in the day on Friday, September 7, from Hazer's Auto and Truck Parts, located at 811 9th St. NW, West Fargo, reporting suspicions of an employee's involvement in child pornography activities over the Internet. The Police Department arranged for officers to go to Hazer's as soon as they came on duty the following morning to check out the allegations.

In the meantime, Daniel Hazer was busy installing tracking software on a computer at his father's auto parts business, enabling him to monitor all computer activity. The sophisticated software recorded every key stroke and provided video footage documenting all Internet activity on the computer in a hidden format undetectable to the users.

Hazer said making sure the software was installed before employees came to work Saturday morning was nerve-racking. "I got it installed with only a couple of minutes to spare. It was tight," Hazer said.

Hazer graduated from Fargo South in 2004 and is currently attending North Dakota State University, working toward a major in management information systems. His computer expertise and insight into how to research, purchase, and install the software helped produce valuable evidence that closed the case.

On March 28, 2008, Hilary A. Edwards, of Ulen, Minn., pleaded guilty and was sentenced before United States District Court Judge Ralph Erickson for possession of pornography. With the incriminating, in-depth evidence provided by Hazer, there was no need for a formal indictment. "Edwards walked into federal court and pled guilty on the spot," Detective Cruff explained. Edwards was sentenced to ten years in prison and lifetime supervision.

West Fargo Detective Derek Cruff, Jim Shaw from the Fargo Police Department, and Troy Breitenbach, a Fargo agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who worked together on the case, were all on hand during Wednesday's presentation to personally thank Hazer for his outstanding efforts that led to the arrest and conviction of Edwards.

"This was the first case I've ever seen when there was never an indictment. The big push in this case was that he [Hazer] had both video and audio proof," Cruff said.

Rasmussen commended Hazer as he shook his hand, "Thanks to you, this man will not be able to hurt another child or transmit pornography over the Internet."