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Howell man enters plea to child pornography charges

A Howell man has entered a plea to a federal charge of distributing child pornography.

Greg Francis Gaither was arrested in March at a residence on Booth Street in Howell following an investigation by the FBI. He was later charged with multiple counts of possessing and distributing child pornography.

In federal court last week, however, Gaither pleaded guilty to a single count of Distribution of Child Pornography, which carries a sentence of 5-20 years in prison. In exchange for the plea, the remaining charges were dropped.

The investigation that resulted in Gaither’s arrest began after agents executed a warrant last December at the home of a Pennsylvania suspect, whom the FBI only identified as Individual A, who they say was using smartphone apps to coerce underage girls to send explicit images and videos, which he then distributed via Telegram, an encrypted, cloud-based instant messaging application.

Over the course of approximately 16 months in 2021 and 2022, prosecutors say Gaither communicated with Individual A via text message and Telegram and that on at least three occasions, he and Individual A distributed child pornography to each other.

Individual A admitted he was talking to someone daily he knew as “Austin,” who worked for Door Dash in Michigan.

The FBI said Austin was actually Gaither. When agents executed a search warrant on March 2 at the Howell residence, Gaither reportedly refused to show himself to agents for several minutes and when he did, his cell phone appeared to have been factory reset.

In his plea agreement, Gaither acknowledged that by pleading guilty, he faces a mandatory

minimum sentence of 60 months’ imprisonment and he will be required to register as a sex offender, under both federal and state registration requirements.

Gaither will be sentenced January 25, 2024 in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

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