A former law enforcement officer, Lance Palma, has been charged with 10 counts of of sexual exploitation of a minor relating to some images he allegedly shared on a social messaging app.
Last December, a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) indicated that images depicting the sexual exploitation of minors were sent to the Phoenix Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit (ICAC). It was determined the pictures were being shared using the Kik social messaging app from a location in the jurisdiction of the Parker Police Department.
Search Warrants were executed to identify the suspect and the suspect’s location. Information received from the search warrants identified Palma and his residence in the town of Parker. With assistance from The Arizona Attorney General’s Office, La Paz County Sheriff’s Department and Lake Havasu City Police Department, a search warrant was served by Parker Police officers at Palma’s residence on February 11th, 2022. Several items were taken as evidence.
“At the time, we were advised to not make an arrest by the AGO Investigator,” said Parker Police Chief Michael Bailey. “The evidence was turned over to the AGO as they had access to the technology needed to view data in electronic devices.”
On March 3rd, 2022, it was discovered that Palma, a former deputy at the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department, had several images depicting sexual exploitation of minors. Due to a conflict of interest, it was decided that the Attorney General’s Office would be the prosecuting agency for the case. All information was turned over to them.
“Multiple attempts to speak with the lead prosecutor were met with unreturned calls and empty promises to keep us informed of the status of the investigation,” Bailey said. “In September, our office was notified by AGO that the case was taken to a Grand Jury. No further information was given at the time.”
On Monday, Bailey says he was advised Palma had his Initial Arraignment for 10 counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (ARS 13-3553) in La Paz County Superior Court. Parker Police Department was also notified Palma had been booked into the La Paz County Jail and immediately released on November 3rd.
“I want to commend our Investigator and support staff for the tremendous job they did on this investigation,” Bailey said. “These cases are particularly difficult to investigate. Predators that share these types of images are a danger to our community. Although he is not in custody now, we are confident that justice will be served against Lance Palma for the egregious acts he has committed.”