A Valencia man who worked as a TV news producer was arrested last month in Ohio on suspicion he distributed child pornography, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.
Phil Drechsler, 61, of Valencia, whose LinkedIn page identifies him as an investigative producer with bylines from NBC and a number of other outlets across the county, was named in a three-count indictment alleging the distribution of child pornography.
“Drechsler was arrested last month in Ohio …” according to an email from Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Today, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned an indictment against him.”
The complaint filed in April alleges that Drechsler used various aliases in a chat group called “The Playground Lives” in Telegram, an anonymous messaging app, to distribute child sexual abuse material, also known as CSAM.
The alleged crimes took place between August 2020 and June 2021, according to a criminal complaint investigated by agents from the Lancaster office of the FBI.
“Between approximately Aug. 17, 2020, and June 28, 2021, Drechsler, under the screen name Karen Flores, shared approximately 117 suspected CSAM videos in ‘The Playground Lives,’” according to the complaint.
“Drechsler commented approximately 16 times,” the complaint notes. “Based on my training and experience, I believe some of comments made by Drechsler indicate he is a member of other unknown group chats involved in the exchange of child sexual abuse material, as well as the intent to deceive or evade law enforcement officers.”
FBI officials served a search warrant and interviewed Drechsler on April 7, according to the complaint. FBI officials then learned from interviewing his wife on April 17, that Drechsler had fled to Ohio with shotgun and two pistols, after mentioning plans to say goodbye and suicidal ideations, the 21-page complaint notes.
Drechsler was taken into custody by FBI agents in Ohio at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Cincinnati, where he was staying.
Each count carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“No hearings are scheduled (at this time),” Mrozek added, noting the defendant is still in custody out of state. “Drechsler will appear in court for an arraignment once he is transported from Ohio.”