Colorado Springs Man Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Term for Producing Child Pornography
Co-defendant Brandi Leonard has pled guilty to related charges and awaits sentencing
DENVER – Richard Hennis, age 41, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was sentenced earlier this week by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to serve 324 months (27 years) in federal prison for the production and transportation of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver Division Acting Special Agent in Charge John Eisert, and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Commander for Colorado Lieutenant Christina Sheppard of the Colorado Springs Police Department announced. Following his prison sentence, Hennis was ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release. The defendant, who appeared at the hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.
Hennis and a co-defendant, Brandi Leonard, were first charged by criminal complaints on March 11, 2016. They were then indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 5, 2016. Hennis pled guilty before Judge Brimmer on November 21, 2016, and was sentenced on April 19, 2017.
Leonard pled guilty to one count of production of child pornography before Judge Brimmer on April 13, 2017. Production of child pornography carries a penalty of not less than 15 years, and not more than 30 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 21, 2017.
According to evidence presented in open court, as well as information contained in public filings, in the course of online chats that occurred between Hennis and Leonard spanning approximately one month, Leonard told Hennis that she had sexually abused an infant. Hennis encouraged Leonard to sexually abuse the infant again, to take pictures or video of the abuse, and to send them to him. Leonard did exactly what Hennis had asked. Law enforcement recovered the pictures that were produced of the infant from Hennis’s phone. Hennis then sent the sexual abuse images of the infant to another individual he was communicating with online.
During their chats, the two defendants discussed in graphic detail kidnapping, raping, killing and dismembering a child between the ages of 4 and 8 years old. Leonard twice during the chat indicated that she didn’t intend to go through with it.
This case was investigated by HSI and the Colorado Springs Police Department’s ICAC Unit, with support provided by the Limon Police Department.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia L. Riewerts, assigned to the Cybercrime and National Security Section of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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.justice.gov/psc.