Former police chief pleads guilty to distributing child porn

The former police chief faces a mandatory minimum five years to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.

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Accused of sending child pornography on social media while in office, a former Montana police chief recently pleaded guilty to a federal charge of distribution of child pornography.

In September 2020, a Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputy, who is a member of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, investigated a tip that Facebook Messenger had reported one of its accounts distributed child pornography to another account. The investigation determined that the Facebook Messenger account distributing child pornography belonged to East Helena Police Chief William Harrington.

On December 17, 2019, Chief Harrington sent 11 images using Messenger to another account with some of the images depicting child porn. While serving a search warrant on Harrington’s residence in Lewis and Clark County in January 2020, law enforcement found several images and videos of child porn on Harrington’s cell phone.

On February 1, 2021, a complaint was filed with the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office accusing Harrington of sexual assault in a separate case. A month later, Harrington resigned from the department while under investigation.

On May 25, Harrington was charged with distributing child pornography in federal court. The former police chief surrendered to the FBI and was taken into custody.

On Tuesday, Harrington pleaded guilty to a federal charge of distribution of child pornography. Harrington admitted that he owned and used the Facebook Messenger account that distributed child pornography.

The former police chief faces a mandatory minimum five years to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.

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