A federal game cop who formerly investigated child porn cases for the State Department was sentenced to prison Friday for child porn possession.
Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services agent Shawn Thomas Conrad was sentenced to seven years in prison and 20 years of supervised release in federal court in Billings.
Prosecutors painted a picture of a man who used his position as a federal law enforcement officer to gain others’ trust. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson said investigators on the case turned up multiple instances in which he tried to groom a child for sexual interactions.
“Conrad is a manipulative child predator,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson in her sentencing memo.
Conrad, 49, filmed a 12-year-old girl in the shower at his home in 2018 after urging her to take a shower and directing her to the master bathroom, prosecutors said.
While no evidence of that video was recovered, it set in motion an investigation into Conrad that turned up another video of the same child from roughly a year earlier, as well as downloaded images of child porn, prosecutors said.
Under a plea deal, prosecutors dropped a child exploitation charge stemming from the showering video. Still, testimony from the alleged victim was permitted.
The girl addressed Conrad in court Friday, recounting how he responded when she became upset and confronted him about two cameras.
“You said, ‘What cameras?’” the girl said.
One camera was hidden in a tissue box, which she said she saw through a hole in the side of the box.
Conrad then removed the cameras from the bathroom, put them in a closet and acted as if he didn’t know why they were there, according to the girl, who asked not to be named.
Shortly after the shower, Conrad told her he “would never do anything like that,” the girl said.
Conrad installed two data wiping programs on both his laptop and desktop before they were seized under a search warrant, according to FBI testimony.
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Peterson, the prosecutor, said that as a federal law enforcement officer, Conrad had a “built-in” knowledge of how to minimize the consequences against him.
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. That work included investigating child pornography, Peterson said.
Despite Conrad’s efforts to wipe his computers, FBI agents still were able to recover some evidence against him from their search.
“However extensive or limited Conrad’s child pornography collection was before he destroyed evidence, Conrad possessed images of other children being sexually exploited,” Peterson wrote in a pre-sentencing memo.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters noted that Conrad had obstructed justice and that he was “nearly successful in obliterating the evidence.”
Conrad had for years groomed the girl he eventually got caught filming, including once directing her to a drawer in his home that was filled with sex toys, according to prosecutors.
“The only reason you groom a child is so you can ultimately have hands-on contact,” Watters said.
A psychosexual evaluator determined Conrad presents a low risk for reoffending.
Defense attorney William D’Alton cast Conrad, an Army combat veteran, as a “true patriot” who was “salvageable” and capable of being rehabilitated.
Conrad had asked for supervised release instead of prison, saying he'd suffered enough with the loss of his job, retirement benefits and hunting rights, due to being unable to possess a firearm.
In a statement, he apologized for the harm he caused and said he hoped he would be forgiven one day. Conrad said he felt “great shame and embarrassment.”
Conrad was permitted to self-report to prison, despite objections by the government. Conrad has abided by the terms of his pretrial release and lacks criminal history.