By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ledyard King
Ryan Loskarn had been arrested in December on charges of possessing, distributing child pornography.
WASHINGTON - A former chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander charged last month with possessing and distributing child pornography, was found dead in his parents' Maryland home, law enforcement officials said Friday.
Ryan Loskarn was found hanging at about noon Thursday, and the Maryland state Medical Examiner said Friday that Loskarn's death, initially reported by Politico, had been ruled a suicide.
"Carroll County Sheriff's deputies responded to a private residence ... for a report of an unconscious male, believed to be deceased," the sheriff's office reported Friday morning. "Family members reported finding 35-year old Jesse Ryan Loskarn unresponsive in his basement where he'd been residing with family since this past December."
Federal agents arrested Loskarn last month on charges that he possessed and intended to distribute child pornography. The arrest came as agents executed a raid on his southeast Washington residence.
Loskarn was accused of placing an external computer hard drive, later found to contain explicit videos, outside his second-floor window. Alexander, R-Tenn., fired him the same day.
The former aide had worked for Tennessee Republicans for more than a decade in several roles and became the senator's chief of staff in late 2011. He earned about $169,000 for fiscal 2013, according to records compiled by LegiStorm.
Loskarn made a rapid rise through the staff ranks in Congress, and the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call called him "one of the Senate GOP's top strategists and aides." The newspaper also had included him on its list of "Fabulous 50 Movers and Shakers."
He was born near Baltimore and graduated with honors in 2000 from Tulane University. That same year, he started in the office of Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., before joining the House Rules Committee in 2001.
In 2003 he became communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a position he held until 2007.
His next move was to become communications director for the Senate Republican Conference, then headed by Alexander. The conference was charged with promoting GOP policy ideas and legislation.
Alexander stepped down as chairman of the conference in late 2011 and named Loskarn as his chief of staff in his personal office.
"For everyone involved, this is a sad and tragic story from beginning to end," Alexander said Friday in statement.
Prosecutors had delayed an indictment of Loskarn, hinting at a possible plea agreement. He had been released to the custody of his parents in Sykesville, Md., about 40 miles north of Washington, where he was ordered not to use the Internet and to wear an ankle bracelet.
In an unusual ruling issued in the case late last year, U.S. Magistrate John M. Facciola defended his decision to release Loskarn to his parents, citing measures taken to ensure that he would not have access to the Internet.
Officials believe that between November 2010 and March 2011, Loskarn made several purchases from a website offering child pornography DVDs. Loskarn also was accused of offering child pornography files for download from his home computer.
"I have prohibited the defendant's use of the Internet," he wrote in the two-page ruling. "I concluded, therefore, that the risk of his resuming the downloading of child pornography is not great."
The memorandum did not mention the risk of suicide. Previously, authorities had worried that Loskarn was a flight risk.
He faced a potential maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment on the charge of possessing child porn. The distribution charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years.
A status conference in the case had been scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.