Crime and Courts

Former NBC4 producer agrees to plead guilty to child pornography charge

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A former KNBC-TV news producer agreed this week to plead guilty to a child pornography charge – in a deal with federal prosecutors that will likely limit prison time to a fraction of the maximum possible sentence of 20 years, court documents show.

Phil Drechsler is set to enter a plea May 30 to a single count of distribution of child pornography, according to a plea agreement filed Monday, in which prosecutors said they would recommend he be sentenced to the minimum term of 5 years in prison.

Drechsler, now 61, agreed to be placed on supervised release, the federal version of parole, for no less than 20 years, and must register as a sex offender for life in whichever state he resides, the plea documents said.

Federal judges do not have to follow the sentencing recommendations in plea agreements but often do.

Drechsler was indicted on 3 counts of distribution of child pornography in April, 2023 after FBI agents said they found evidence Drechsler had shared a number of explicit videos in a private online chatroom, and seized numerous digital devices suspected to contain additional illegal material.

This week’s plea agreement was filed 3 months after prosecutors told the court that FBI agents, who continued to investigate Drechsler’s online activity, had identified a 12-year-old child with whom Drechsler allegedly engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and suggested additional criminal charges would be sought.

Drechsler worked at NBC4 from 2012 to February 2023. 

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