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Child Exploitation

Former Illinois firefighter sentenced to 30 years in prison for exploiting children

CHICAGO - A former Rochester, Ill., firefighter was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for exploiting children. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Justin D. Weaver, 27, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Mills in the Central District of Illinois. In January of this year, Weaver pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography and destruction of evidence. At his plea hearing, Weaver admitted to molesting a child younger than 12 years old, and producing child pornography of that molestation.

Weaver is also required to register as a sex offender in accordance with state and federal law.

Illinois' Springfield Police Department and Adams County Sheriff's Department assisted with the investigation.

"This case is especially disturbing given the defendant's position of trust," said Gary J. Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "However, ICE HSI will continue to vigorously investigate anyone who exploits and victimizes children."

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.