SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A local man was sentenced on Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for receiving, reproducing and possessing child pornography. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Rinald Heaton, 52, of Loami, Ill., was sentenced Jan. 11 to 137 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to the child pornography charges in July. During the court hearing, U.S. District Judge Jeanne E. Scott, Central District of Illinois, further ordered Heaton to serve a lifetime term of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence. Heaton has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest in May.
Heaton pleaded guilty July 7 to 15 counts of receiving images of child pornography, one count of reproducing, and one count of possessing child pornography. At that time, Heaton also forfeited computer equipment and related items and programs used to commit the offenses. Heaton admitted to receiving child pornography on his computer on various dates from Sept. 5, 2005 to May 2, 2009.
"People who distribute and possess child pornography victimize the most vulnerable members of our society," said Michael Mitchell, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Springfield. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, including physical abuse, or exploitation by possessing or sharing child pornography."
ICE was assisted in the investigation by the following agencies: the Illinois Attorney General's Office; the Illinois police departments of Loami and Decatur; and the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson prosecuted the case, Central District of Illinois, prosecuted the case.
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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
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.