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A former federal game agent has admitted possessing child porn.

Shawn Thomas Conrad, 49, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to a single count of possession of child pornography. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Under a plea agreement, Conrad has agreed to pay a victim $15,000 in restitution. The agreement would allow him to avoid a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 to 30 years, since the government has agreed to dismiss one count of sexual exploitation of a minor at sentencing. 

Conrad, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, downloaded sexually explicit “selfie” images of girls, he said in court Tuesday.

After reviewing them, he realized some of the subjects might have been underage and deleted them, he told Judge Susan Watters.

Two or three of the pornographic images he downloaded were later determined to be minors, Conrad said.

Not included in Conrad's hearing Tuesday were admissions related to allegations he sexually exploited a minor on Aug. 3 by causing her to engage in sexually explicit conduct and creating a visual depiction of it. The girl's age was not specified. Prosecutors will move to dismiss this count at sentencing. 

On Aug. 4, Conrad had his government vehicle seized as part of an investigation by the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

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On both Aug. 3 and 4, large amounts of data were deleted or copied from a laptop found in Conrad's home, investigators learned. 

After Conrad's Fish and Wildlife vehicle was seized, he pleaded with his supervisor to retrieve a personal hard drive from inside the vehicle but the supervisor declined.

A search warrant for the hard drive and a laptop inside Conrad’s home turned up images and one video of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Sentencing has been set for Sept. 6.

Prior to beginning work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011, Conrad served as a special agent with the State Department for eight years where he  investigated violent crime, according to filings in an unrelated case in the U.S. District Court for Montana in 2014.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.