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Grand Jury Indicts Loami Man Prevously Charged With Child Porn Offenses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2009

Springfield, Ill. - A federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging a Loami, Illinois man with child pornography offenses. The indictment charges Ronald L. Heaton, 51, of the 200 block of Church Street, with 15 counts of receiving images of child pornography, one count of reproduction and one count of possession of child pornography. Further, the indictment seeks criminal forfeiture of computer equipment and related items and programs used in the commission of the alleged offenses.

Heaton was arrested on May 4, 2009, and charged in a criminal complaint. U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore ordered that Heaton remain detained in law enforcement custody without bond.

The indictment alleges Heaton received images of child pornography on his computer on various dates from September 5, 2005 to May 2, 2009. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Heaton allegedly purchased at least one subscription to an Internet website that was distributing child pornography.

The charges are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Loami Police Department and other members of the working group including officers with the Decatur Police Department and the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, each count of receipt of child pornography and reproduction of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of five years imprisonment to 20 years in prison. Possession of child pornography carries a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The offenses also carry terms of up to life supervised release following any term of imprisonment.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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