DETROIT — A Pittsfield Township man was sentenced Wednesday to 360 months imprisonment following an investigation and subsequent arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit field office, working jointly with the University of Michigan Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office under the auspices of the newly- created Cyber Rescue of Washtenaw (CREW) taskforce.
Terry LeClerc, 47, was sentenced in federal court to 360 months for the production, receipt, and possession of child pornography. This case was initiated in 2016 when the Ann Arbor Police Department received a complaint that LeClerc had sexually assaulted a cognitively impaired individual. Responding officers from the Ann Arbor Police Department observed sexually explicit images on LeClerc’s cellular telephone and coordinated the subsequent investigation with the CREW taskforce. CREW investigators forensically examined LeClerc’s telephone and discovered unrelated images depicting two minor victims being sexually assaulted. LeClerc later admitted that he had assaulted the victims and photographed his acts. In addition to the federal charges, LeClerc was charged concurrently by the state of Michigan with criminal sexual conduct involving a minor and is scheduled to be sentenced in that case later this month.
“The images found on the defendant’s cell phone are not merely pictures but are a permanent record of sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” stated United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider. “I commend the work of HSI and CREW for their dedication to investigating crimes against children.”
In 2017, HSI, the University of Michigan Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office created the CREW taskforce. The task force brings together federal, county, and local law enforcement resources to protect the citizens of Washtenaw County from the growing threats posed by cyber criminals. One of the greatest challenges for law enforcement is the increasing use of the Internet and electronic media by criminal organizations to commit crimes. Criminal organizations use electronic devices and software programs to conduct their unlawful activity. Examination of these devices and programs poses many challenges to law enforcement. This taskforce provides forensic investigators the opportunity to collaborate and share their unique capabilities, training, specialized equipment, and expertise.
CREW focuses on criminals and criminal organizations that victimize the most vulnerable citizens such as children and the elderly. Due to the nature of cybercrimes, most of these criminal organizations are transnational in structure. Although the suspects or victims of Internet crimes may be located in Washtenaw County, these investigations usually involve criminal activity throughout the United States and in foreign countries. The combined resources of the CREW taskforce provide investigators the opportunity to target these criminal organizations wherever they operate. The creation of the taskforce also offers investigators the flexibility to prosecute criminals in both the state and federal court systems.
Since its inception, investigators have arrested 16 suspects, rescued 26 child victims, and rescued 4 adult victims. Cyber criminals continuously change their methods and technologies to avoid detection by law enforcement. Through the shared resources and outstanding forensic analysis conducted by the highly skilled CREW investigators, the taskforce will continue to target and dismantle predatory cyber criminals.
The public is encouraged to report cyber-crime, including the sexual exploitation of children or the mentally disabled, to law enforcement. Citizens of Washtenaw County who wish to make a complaint about an alleged online crime may contact the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office at (734) 222-4357 or the University of Michigan Police Department for crimes related to the campus at (734) 763-1131.
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. Tipsters can report crimes anonymously.
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.