FDIC attorney Mark Black pleads guilty in child sex exploitation case

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    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, March 13, 2023.

    Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    A former high-ranking lawyer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to conspiring to sexually exploit multiple children and now faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years.

    The lawyer, Mark Black, also previously served as president of the board of the Arlington Aquatic Club, a renowned Virginia swim club that includes U.S. Olympic swimmers among its alumni. Black resides in Arlington.

    Black, 50, most recently was special counsel in the general counsel’s office of the FDIC, which insures the deposits of U.S. commercial and savings banks, according to his LinkedIn page. He has worked in the legal division since April 2013, his LinkedIn page says.

    The Department of Justice said Black, who is married and has teenage sons, was a member of “two online groups dedicated to exploiting children.”

    “The goal of the two groups was to locate prepubescent girls online and convince them to livestream themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” the DOJ said in a press release.

    “Black and his co-conspirators would covertly record this conduct and share the videos with each other,” the DOJ said.

    Black pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and one count of coercion and enticement.

    He is due to be sentenced on April 30. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

    The FDIC told CNBC it was “deeply shocked and disturbed about the allegations” against Black, who was suspended by the agency when it learned about the investigation of him last year.

    The FDIC said Black’s criminal activity “had nothing whatsoever to do with the FDIC,” and did not involve the use of agency computers or other devices. The agency also said it had cooperated with the FBI and DOJ in the criminal probe.

    CNBC has requested comment from Black’s defense attorneys and from the Arlington Aquatic Club.

    On Jan. 5, Black was deemed indefinitely ineligible by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a nonprofit group that has the authority to resolve abuse and misconduct reports in sports associated with U.S. Olympic programs.

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    Court documents show that Black, who previously was an attorney at the firm Steptoe & Johnson, was arrested in mid-September after being indicted on six criminal counts related to the production, advertisement, receipt, distribution and possession of child pornography.

    The indictment says Black engaged in that criminal conduct from January 2018 through October 2021.

    He has been held without bond since his arrest due to the ages of the victims in the case, the weight of the evidence, and his risk of lengthy incarceration, according to court documents.

    Black’s lawyers, in a court filing in September seeking his release, offered as a third-party custodian for him Genevieve Holm, who was described as “a retired, career 40-year trial attorney with the Department of Justice, who also has served as” a state court magistrate.

    The filing said authorities executed a search warrant at Black’s home on June 6 last year in connection with the child-porn probe.

    After material was seized from the home, Black “voluntarily self-referred to counseling” with a certified sex offender treatment provider, the filing said.

    The provider, in a statement cited by defense lawyers, said Black “is an excellent candidate for continued outpatient treatment.”

    “Mark Black is 50 years old, and the remaining months may be his last opportunity to see his teenage sons and make final arrangements to secure the stability of his family before he is incarcerated for a lengthy period of time,” defense lawyers wrote.

    “This time in the community is important in order to make sure all necessary appropriate legal and financial steps for his family for many years to come, may be his last opportunity in his life to spend some meaningful time with his family, and will with appropriate conditions not be a danger to the community.”

    A judge denied that request shortly after it was made.

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