SAN DIEGO — A man who taught and coached hockey to children in San Diego was arrested and charged in federal court on suspicion of distribution of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Daniel Dasko, 30, was arrested at his home on July 13 by FBI officials, Office of the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California’s Director of Media Relations Kelly Thornton stated in a news release. Dasko is charged with distribution of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Dasko was a teacher’s aide, substitute teacher and youth hockey coach for elementary and middle school students in the San Diego area, Thornton said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not clarify which school(s) Dasko worked at.
Federal officials say Dasko’s suspected illicit activity was first discovered during the course of another child pornography investigation in Philadelphia. In July 2021, FBI officials in Philadelphia received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of a man who was uploading child pornography and was later identified as a teacher in the Philadelphia-area, Thornton said.
FBI officials executed a search warrant on the Philadelphia suspect’s home and found numerous conversations on his phone of conversations about child pornography, trading images of minors and baiting minors to send explicit video or pictures of themselves.
One of the people the Philadelphia suspect was in contact with used the screen name “Mr. Pickles,” and they exchanged over 3,600 messages between October 2020-October 2021, with numerous messages including image and video files, Thornton said.
During investigation, FBI officials suspected that Dasko was Mr. Pickles. The FBI’s San Diego office received a federal search warrant, which was executed on July 13 to find evidence of child exploitation crimes.
After waiving his Miranda Rights and agreeing to talk with FBI agents, Dasko admitted that he was Mr. Pickles and the user of the social media account, Thornton said. He faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
“There is nothing more important than keeping our children safe from sexual abuse and exploitation,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “Social media makes this a very challenging endeavor, but we will do everything in our power to protect kids from online predators who use technology to target and trick them.”
San Diego Ice Arena removed the coach from all programs related to the rink as well as from all U.S. ice hockey participation, the arena said in a notice.
“Dasko served as a coach of two in-house 12U teams. While he had very limited interaction with anyone beyond those teams, we felt it appropriate to notify all parents. Also, SDIA follows the procedures to assure that volunteers and employees take the Safesport training and are background screened. Dan Dasko went through both and nothing showed up on his background check,” the notice said.
Officials urge any victims or anyone with information on this case to contact the FBI San Diego Field Office at 858-320-1800 or submit an anonymous tip at tips.fbi.gov.