Truckee man arrested in Australia | SierraSun.com

Truckee man arrested in Australia

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

A Truckee man awaits extradition to the United States after giving himself up to Australian authorities last month on a federal warrant for possession of child pornography.

Howard Wesley Cotterman, 66, a registered sex offender in Nevada County, was taken into custody Sept. 8 in New South Wales, Australia, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Last April, U.S Customs and Border Patrol agents alerted ICE and the Truckee Police Department after Cotterman and his wife, Maureen, re-entered the United States after a six-month trip to Mexico starting in November, according to Truckee police Det. Robert Womack.

The couple were detained in Lukeville, Arizona for interviews with ICE officials when Cotterman’s name appeared on a federal database. They were subsequently released but not before ICE agents seized two laptops and digital camcorders from Cotterman, according to an ICE news release.

While Immigration computer forensics teams searched Cotterman’s computers the convicted sex-offender fled to Australia while his wife returned home to Truckee, according to Womack.

The computer forensics examination revealed that Cotterman had numerous password-protected files hidden on his computer containing homemade child pornography involving a minor female, according to ICE officials.

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“As soon as [ICE] called me, we issued a search warrant and searched his house,” Womack said.

Truckee officers and ICE agents cooperated in the search and at least two more computers were found at Cotterman’s home. Those computers were taken to forensic labs where additional child pornography was found, Womack said.

Cotterman is registered on the Megan’s Law Web site for several violations that occurred outside the Truckee area, including lewd acts with a child under 14 years old, use of an underage person for obscene matter and molesting children.

Womack said Immigration and Customs officials then obtained a federal warrant for Cotterman’s arrest for possessing child pornography. An international police organization, Interpol, warrant search was conducted, but according to Womack, it was not until a Sept. 6 conversation with Cotterman’s wife at her Truckee home about the consequences of harboring a fugitive did the 66-year-old turn himself into Australian authorities two days later.

Cotterman and his wife were community volunteers, according to Jois Child, Friends of the Library president.

“Maureen has helped a lot and Howard came to help once or twice,” Child said.

“The reality is it is usually the neighbor next door or the family friend that is doing this,” Womack said.