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October 27, 2022Houston, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

Galveston-area man sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for receiving, possessing child pornography following investigation by HSI Galveston, local partners

HOUSTON — A Galveston-area man was sentenced Oct. 26 to more than 14 years in federal prison for receiving and possessing child pornography following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Galveston and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

Richard Blake Howard, a 28-year-old resident of Dickinson, Texas, was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas to 174 and 120 months for the receipt and possession of child pornography convictions, respectively. The two sentences will run concurrently for a total of 174 months in prison. Howard will further be ordered to pay restitution to the victims in an amount to be determined later and will serve 15 years on supervised release following completion of his prison term. During that time, he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Howard will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.

Howard pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 16.

In December 2018, authorities began an investigation after receiving a cyber tip from a cloud storage company. They determined Howard’s location based on the IP address he used to receive and distribute child pornography to several storage accounts.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Howard’s residence and seized laptop computers and cell phones. A search of his electronic devices revealed he received and distributed child pornography via his cloud storage accounts. Further investigation showed he received images from a particular website that is known by authorities to be a platform for child pornography.

Howard possessed approximately 973 images of prepubescent minors, bondage and bestiality involving minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He also had 1,203 videos with some over five minutes in length.

At the hearing, the court heard additional information that Howard was not deterred even after law enforcement executed a search warrant at his residence in March 2019, seized his electronic devices and arrested him on an unrelated state warrant. The court then heard how Howard continued to receive, distribute and view child pornography using his Xbox until law enforcement executed a second search warrant in February 2021. The court also heard how Howard had a collection of children’s panties that he would steal from when he babysat young children. The court heard how Howard morphed images to create his own child pornography and took candid photos of women’s buttocks.

Howard will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sherri L. Zack and Kimberly A. Leo prosecuted the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to aggressively investigate child exploitation and keep Southeast Texas communities safe from child predators follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.