A Cleburne County man with a history of sex offenses dating back to 2011 who pleaded guilty in January to extortion was sentenced on Friday to spend the next 24 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr., who granted an upward variance of six months above the sentencing guideline range of 18 months.
Trent Allen Hackney, 31, of Higden was indicted by a grand jury in April 2021 on charges of extortion and harassment after an FBI investigation into a report by an unidentified 21-year-old woman that she had been the victim of a scheme sexual extortion.
According to court records, Hackney is a registered Level 3 sex offender in Cleburne County and is an active parolee assigned to the Cleburne County Probation and Parole Office.
Court records indicate that he was convicted in 2011 of sexual indecency with a child and distribution/possession or viewing of sexually explicit material for children. In 2013, he was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sexual solicitation/indecency with a child. He was arrested in September 2020 in Conway on state charges of failing to register as a sex offender and possession of a firearm by certain individuals.
Court records said Hackney’s next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 22 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
Under the terms of Hackney’s plea deal, he agreed to plead guilty to the extortion charge – which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years – in exchange for the government agreeing to drop a harassment charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
According to federal sentencing guidelines, calculated by the US Probation Office after the completion of a pre-sentence report, the recommended range for Hackney’s offense was 12 to 18 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
Court records showed Hackney, using social media accounts under four different aliases, stalked the woman and extorted sex and money from her. He was arrested after investigators from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, using the victim’s mobile phone to text Hackney, arranged a meeting with him and arrested him at a traffic stop.
Moody noted that despite the dismissal of the harassment charge, he could consider the conduct uncharged for sentencing purposes.
Hackney’s attorney, KenDrell Collins of the Federal Office of Public Defenders in Little Rock, asked Moody to give Hackney a tentative sentence.
“Based on US sentencing guidelines,” Collins said, “the Sentencing Commission has determined that a sentence of 12 to 18 months is appropriate.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant, who prosecuted the case, asked Moody to consider going beyond the indicative range to the maximum legal sentence of two years.
“Quite frankly,” Bryant said, “it’s not enough time, but I’m bound by the legal maximum.”
Bryant said Hackney’s past conduct called for a sentence above the recommended range. She said his previous convictions as well as conduct listed in a sex offender assessment indicated he had left as many as 10 victims in his wake over the past decade.
“When he committed this immediate offence, he was under criminal conviction for three other matters,” she said. “The conduct in this case is so calculated and so manipulative that to me it indicates the kind of person he is. He cheated on this woman by giving her money, having sex with him, it is disgusting and again, two years isn’t enough… but the conduct in this case and his criminal history justify a gap upwards to 24 months.”
In addition to two years in prison, Moody orders Hackney to serve one year of probation.