John McArthur, Oil Refinery Fire Captain, Cops to Sharing Child Porn from the Philippines

Hey, where's Capt. McArthur?
Hey, where's Capt. McArthur?
Photo by flickr user Eddie HM

An oil refinery firefighter captain who resides in Huntington Beach pleaded guilty last week to producing child pornography in a deal he thought was with a 13-year-old girl but who was actually a 75-year-old man in disguise. Cue The Platters' "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

John McArthur entered his plea Friday before U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton in Santa Ana, where the 57-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 21 to as few as 15 years in federal prison and as many as 30 years.

McArthur, a firefighter captain at a San Pedro oil refinery,* engaged in online communication with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl in the Philippines in January 2012, telling "her" he would buy her a camera so she could send him sexually explicit photos of the "girl" and her 11-year-old friend, according to prosecutors.

What McArthur did not know was he actually sent money via Western Union to Robert Oliver Clark, a 75-year-old U.S. citizen residing in the Philippines and not working for the government.

Unknown to both men: U.S. federal investigators were on to the porn-sharing deal and soon discovered the 13-year-old girl was actually Clark, who the feds had arrested in September 2014.

Clark signed a plea agreement on May 1 that acknowledged he "possessed, in his computer hard drive and in his email accounts, 5,443 images and 53 videos of child pornography, including 43 images and one video portraying sadistic or masochistic conduct and 16 images portraying toddlers." He is scheduled to enter his guilty plea May 21 in federal court in Los Angeles, according to U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek.

McArthur received hundreds of images and several videos of child pornography through his emails, Mrozek added.

*Clarification: The original version of this post identified John McArthur's workplace as a ConocoPhillips refinery. That refinery separated from Conoco Phillips to become a Phillips 66 entity in May 2012, according to Daren Beaudo, director of Communications with ConocoPhillips.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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