Big Sky Roundup

Former East Helena police chief pleads guilty to distributing child pornography

By: - December 7, 2021 12:58 pm

The stairs of the Montana Capitol in Helena, Montana (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan).

A former East Helena police chief is facing from five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to distributing child pornography in 2019, U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a press release on Tuesday.

In 2020, a Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputy, a member of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, received a tip that one of its social media accounts distributed child pornography to another account. After following the lead, investigators discovered that William Daly Harrington, 43, used Facebook Messenger to distribute child pornography, and that he sent 11 images using Messenger to another account — some of which depicted child pornography, according to the release.

On Jan. 27, 2021, a search warrant was served on Harrington’s residence in Lewis and Clark County. Law enforcement seized Harrington’s cellular phone, which was analyzed and contained images and videos of child pornography, the release said. Harrington admitted that he owned and used the Facebook Messenger account that distributed child pornography, the release said.

A plea agreement in the case calls for the government to seek the dismissal of three other counts in an indictment if the court accepts the deal. Chief Judge Brian Morris will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Harrington was released pending further proceedings.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

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