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U.S. senator's ex-chief of staff arraigned on child porn charges

By Lacey Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander's ex-chief of staff was arraigned on Thursday on federal child pornography charges, a day after being arrested and quickly fired by the Republican from Tennessee.

Jesse Loskarn, 35, was ordered held in custody pending a preliminary hearing. He was arrested on Wednesday by U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents on suspicion of possessing and attempting to distribute child pornography.

The complaint said a hard drive seized at Loskarn's home in Washington contained child pornography including hundreds of videos of underage boys engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Alexander, a Tennessee lawmaker seeking a third term next year, first put Loskarn on an unpaid leave of absence and then fired him.

Magistrate Judge John Facciola ordered U.S. Marshals to hold Loskarn until Monday, when the defendant is to enter a plea at a hearing at U.S. District Court.

The arrest stemmed from an investigation launched in 2010 by the Postal Inspection Service and Toronto police into a movie production company that made films featuring young nude boys, according to the criminal complaint.

One of the company's customers was Loskarn. Postal inspectors in October identified his residential Internet address on the Gnutella peer-to-peer network as offering "files with names that are consistent with child pornography," the complaint said.

Partial downloads of identical videos from Gnutella showed they contained child pornography.

If convicted, Loskarn faces a total maximum of 30 years in prison for the two charges.

Alexander replaced Loskarn with longtime aide David Cleary, who has worked with the senator since 2006.

(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson)

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