SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A former southwestern Missouri teacher pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to receiving and distributing child pornography over the internet.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Lebanon (Missouri) Police Department.
Brandon Hileman, 25, of Lebanon, Missouri, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to the charge contained in an Oct. 18, 2017, federal indictment.
Hileman, formerly a math teacher at Joel E. Barber Junior High School in Lebanon, admitted that he received and distributed child pornography over the internet between Jan. 1 and Sept. 29, 2017.
This investigation began when a Lebanon police detective was notified that Hileman had uploaded two videos of child pornography to his Google Drive account. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hileman’s residence on Sept. 29, 2017; they seized computers, an iPad, cellphones and digital storage devices. Investigators examined the devices and found images and videos of child pornography.
Under federal statutes, Hileman is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.