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Press Release

Indictment Charges Pekin Man with Distribution of Child Pornography and Impersonating a U.S. Marshal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

Peoria, Ill. – Late yesterday, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment that charges Arthur D. Wheeler, 30, of of the 600 block of Harberts, South Pekin, Ill., with distribution of child pornography and impersonating a federal officer, as announced by Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois.

Wheeler was previously arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Aug. 24, 2015. Wheeler made his initial appearance in federal court in Peoria before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley who ordered that Wheeler remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that in May 2015, Wheeler obtained nude photos from a minor female in Missouri by receiving them on his phone and by accessing the minor’s Facebook account.  According to the affidavit, Wheeler appeared June 1, 2015, in the Circuit Court of Tazewell County seeking an order of protection against the minor’s family. Wheeler stated to the court that the minor’s family had threatened him because of his communications with the minor during the preceding two weeks.  During the court proceeding, Wheeler produced his phone, which was ultimately seized and examined by law enforcement.  The affidavit alleges that on three separate occasions, in late May and early June 2015, Wheeler used the cellphone’s text function to send naked images of the minor to approximately 120 people in the area code where the minor lives.

The indictment alleges that on three occasions, one on May 29, and on two separate occasions on June 1, 2015, Wheeler distributed child pornography.  Further, the indictment alleges that on June 1, 2015, Wheeler impersonated a U.S. Marshal in an attempt to get information from an individual about the minor’s whereabouts.

If convicted, for each count of distribution of child pornography (three counts), Wheeler faces a statutory penalty of at least 15 years and up to 40 years in prison, and up to three years in prison for impersonating a federal officer.

The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service; task force members of the Central Illinois Cyber Crime Unit, including the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office and the Bloomington Police Department; the Pekin Police Department; Illinois State Police; and, the U.S. Marshal’s Service .

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; each 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

Updated September 23, 2015

Project Safe Childhood