WA man enters plea to attempted production of child pornography

By on Friday, September 24th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Columbia Basin Top Stories

SPOKANE – A man from West Richland, Washington, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a plea agreement to one count of attempted production of child pornography.

In the plea agreement, Trent Drexel Howard, 50, and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to a sentence of 23 years in prison. A judge will decide Jan. 6, 2022, whether to accept the plea agreement.

According to court documents, beginning on or about March 2008 and continuing through April 2016, Howard knowingly attempted to use fourteen different children to take part in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct.  For years, Howard used cameras hidden in bathrooms and bedrooms of his residence to capture video footage of the minor victims in nude and semi-nude states.  Federal agents discovered the video footage after execution of a search warrant authorizing the search of evidence of child pornography at Howard’s residence.  Agents seized over 100 electronic devices.  The investigation began, however, when Howard distributed over 168 suspected child pornography files to an undercover agent over a publicly accessible, Internet based, file-sharing network.  Forensic review of the seized devices led to the discovery of the hidden camera footage and later identification of at least fourteen minor victims.

 According to court documents, Howard was working in Kazakhstan when federal agents executed the search warrant at his residence in Richland, Washington.  After learning of the investigation, Howard stayed in Kazakhstan and was eventually arrested by Kazakhstan authorities on Sept. 12, 2019.  A Kazakh judge ordered Howard be detained pending an extradition request from the United States.  According to the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Howard’s removal from Kazakhstan is the first extradition from that country by the United States.