By Daniel Silliman
To his ex-wife and his closest friend, 42-year-old Douglas Yutaka Rhoades was an undercover FBI agent investigating rogue agents and child pornography.
He had a metal badge with his photo on it, signed by bureau founder J. Edgar Hoover, and marked with a large gold shield.
But, the Jonesboro man was actually a security guard, allegedly impersonating a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, and carrying around DVDs filled with child pornography, according to the FBI and federal prosecutors.
When arrested by Clayton County Police and a trio of FBI agents at about 2:30 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 24, Rhoades was driving his minivan home, Special Agent Joseph Fonseco testified at a probable cause hearing, Wednesday afternoon. Rhoades had the well-worn badge in his back pocket and he had a handgun in the center console. He had bags and bags of candy, in the car, a number of blankets, a digital camera, a camcorder, and 75 DVDs.
"They had handwritten titles," Fonseco said. " 'Web Teens 1,' 'Web Teens 2,' 'Teen Pics and Vids,' 'Masturbation,' and other pornographic titles ... There was a series of pictures with preteens, I'd say between ages 10 and 12, in various stages of dress and undress."
The FBI seized all 75 DVDs from the minivan, and seized four computers from Rhoades' Jonesboro home at 779 Sherwood Drive. The DVDs and hard drives have not yet been forensically processed, but the special agent said a review of 10 to 15 of the disks revealed around 50 pornographic images of young girls.
Rhoades, a short man with a choppy haircut, unsuccessfully slicked down, didn't look at the two allegedly pornographic photos when the prosecutor put them into evidence. Wearing an orange jumpsuit with the collar turned up, Rhoades sat between his court-appointed attorneys, in a wood-paneled courtroom on the 18th floor of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta, saying nothing.
His attorney told the court Rhoades denies all the allegations and intends to plead not guilty.
Fonseco told the court Rhoades' badge resembled his own FBI credentials, but it was obviously fake.
"You can tell, when you hold it, it's a little larger than ours," he said. "And J. Edgar Hoover doesn't sign our credentials and to my knowledge, he never did. I don't know J. Edgar, but I know that's not his [signature]."
When arrested, Rhoades reportedly told agents he purchased the credentials for $50 over the Internet, sending his picture to someone in Australia and receiving them in the mail. It was not clear, Wednesday, how long the 42-year-old has been carrying the credentials.
When Rhoades was initially reported to police, his ex-wife told Clayton County Police Department detectives her husband was an FBI agent, but she suspected him of molesting a young neighbor girl. The girl's stepfather -- a friend of Rhoades who was not named in court -- told investigators he trusted the man to look after the 12-year-old many times, because he was an FBI agent.
A check of the bureau's database revealed Rhoades does not, and never, worked for the FBI. A check of Department of Labor databases led them to the man's real employment.
Prosecutors said they are particularly disturbed by the case because Rhoades may have used his fake identity to molest prepubescent girls.
"There may be people out there who trusted him because of that representation," U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said. "It's a disturbing case because we rely on people being able to trust people who say they're law enforcement."
Investigators believe there may be at least two girls who have been molested by Rhoades, but the investigation is ongoing and charges have not yet been brought. In addition to his friend's stepdaughter, Fonseco alleged another neighbor girl, now 16, received a Mother's Day card from Rhoades when she was 11, and in the card he referred to her as "the mother of my child."
The investigation is ongoing, and officials released Rhoades photograph hoping other victims may recognize him. Anyone who believes the 42-year-old security guard may have victimized someone they know is asked to call the FBI at (404) 679-9000.
United States Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman found there was probable cause Wednesday to charge Rhoades. A bond hearing was continued until Thursday morning.