Ex-KNBC-TV News Producer Makes Plea Deal With Feds Over Child Pornography Charges; Likely To Get Greatly Reduced Prison Sentence

Over a year after Phil Drechsler was arrested on child pornography charges, the former KNBC-TV news producer has made a plea deal with prosecutors that could see him receiving a greatly reduced sentence.

Picked up on the run in Cincinnati in April 2023, Drechsler today entered a guilty plea in federal court on the lone charge of distribution of child pornography, a May 20 filing of a revised plea agreement details Compelled to register as a sex offender, wearing a monitoring device, and stay away from schools, kids, computers, post office boxes and much more, Drechsler’s deal with the government will see prosecutors’ request the judge to sentence the 11-year KNBC vet to the statutory minimum required.

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On a charge that could see an offender behind bars for up to 20 years, Drechsler may get just five years in prison, five years supervised release, and a few thousand dollars in fines along with full restitution to his victims. No sentencing date has been set yet.

In its 22-page Monday filing in LA (read it here), the office of U.S. Attorney E. Martin Estrada  promised Drechsler that at that sentencing, when it occurs, it would:

At the time of sentencing, move to dismiss the remaining counts of the indictment as against defendant. Defendant agrees, however, that at the time of sentencing the Court may consider any dismissed charges in determining the applicable  Sentencing Guidelines range, the propriety and extent of any departure from that range, and the sentence to be imposed.

At the time of sentencing, provided that defendant demonstrates an acceptance of responsibility for the offense up to and including the time of sentencing, recommend a two-level reduction in the applicable Sentencing Guidelines offense level, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1, and recommend and, if necessary, move for an additional one-level reduction if available under that section. 

Recommend that defendant be sentenced to a term of imprisonment no higher than the statutory minimum applicable to the offense, distribution of child pornography.

Now, what the prosecution is doing is merely a recommendation and the judge could reject it. The judge could also add on more time, fines and conditions depending on other recommendations or an furher assessment of the crime and the publicly defended perp.

Now 61-years-old, the ex-Santa Clarita resident worked for KNBC-TV for 11 years up until February 2023 when he was laid off. After a police raid on the home Drechsler shared with his wife, an April 2023 Grand Jury indicted the newsman on three counts of distribution of child pornography, The indoictment said that between August 2020 and June 2021, Drechsler shared more than 117 videos, nine images and other types of files depicting child pornography as part of an online group.

Today’s filing tweaks some of what was decided by the Grand Jury last year: “From at least May 7, 2021 to June 5, 2021, defendant knowingly distributed matters that defendant knew constituted child pornography via the Internet, using a computer with Internal Protocol (“IP”) addresses subscribed to him at his residence in Los Angeles, California.”

It adds:

Defendant admits and agrees that he knew the images and videos that he distributed and possessed contained visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and that he knew that production of such visual depictions involved use of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. 

Defendant admits and agrees that the children depicted in the child pornography images and videos are real children, and defendant downloaded the images and videos from the Internet, which is a means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, using a computer.

In the raid on Drechsler’s southern California home last year, law enforcement found a cluster of child pornography on his smartphone as a part of his participation under the “Karen Flores” alias online.

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