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A former West Manchester Township police officer is now facing trial, accused of possessing child pornography.

Chad Richard Howell was scheduled to have his preliminary hearing Monday but instead waived his right to the proceeding.

Spring Grove-area District Judge Tom Reilly — sitting in for West Manchester Township-area District Judge Keith Albright — set formal court arraignment for June 2.

Howell, 36, of Dillsburg, remains free on $25,000 bail, charged with 50 counts of possessing child pornography and one count of using a computer for a criminal purpose. All offenses are third-degree felonies.

Maintains innocence: Defense attorney Tim Barrouk asked people to keep an open mind about the case.

"We're very early in the process," he said. "Mr. Howell maintains his innocence."

Michele Walsh, chief deputy prosecutor at the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, represented the commonwealth during the waiver.

Attending as an observer was Kelly Kelch, West Manchester Township manager, who fired Howell on March 8.

At the time of Howell's termination, Kelch told The York Dispatch that Howell could appeal the decision.

But Howell did not appeal, according to Kelch.

Howell declined comment Monday.

The background: Howell was placed on unpaid administrative leave Feb. 23 — the day the township learned of the charges, Kelch has said.

Howell was a York City police officer until the summer of 2015, then was hired by the West Manchester Township Police Department.

On Feb. 3, the attorney general's office received 14 cybertips reporting a user uploading an explicit image of a child, documents state.

The website Pinterest had reported that users uploaded images in October and November 2016, with those users registered under Chad or Chad Howell, documents state.

Through a subpoena, the IP addresses of those accounts were found to be from Howell's home, the AG's office said.

Some of the uploaded images included girls as young as 8 years old, according to charging documents.

Met with agents: Agents from the AG's office met with West Manchester Township Police Chief Arthur Smith Jr. on Feb. 23, the day charges were filed, to set up a meeting with Howell as he was getting off duty, charging documents state.

While speaking with two agents from the AG's office, Howell consented to having his personal laptop computer and cellphone searched, documents state.

He also confirmed for agents that he used three of the four profiles mentioned as the ones that uploaded the pictures, according to charging documents. He admitted to using the names "howellycpd" "chrissmith4618" and "Howell103," the AG's office said.

When asked if officials would find child pornography on his phone or computers, Howell said, "I would like to say no, but I really don't know," documents state.

Images on iPhone: While doing a preview of Howell's iPhone, about 50 images of child pornography were found, the AG's office said.

"This was only a sampling of those images on Chad Richard Howell's Apple iPhone," documents state.

Additionally, agents from the AG's office searched Howell's home, documents state.

Howell was terminated five days after his March 3 Loudermill hearing, according to Kelch. It's a due-process hearing that's standard for government employees.

"Based on the information presented, the township is confident we made the correct decision in this matter," Kelch told The York Dispatch at the time. "We hope the public doesn't see this as a reflection of our entire department."

He described West Manchester's police officers as hardworking and dedicated to serving the community.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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