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Press Release

Repeat child pornography offender sentenced to 10 years in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on Friday sentenced a man who was caught with child pornography for a second time to 10 years in prison.

Johnny Lee Hesse, now 41, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of child pornography in 2013 and was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release.

In March of 2021, the U.S. Probation Office received a tip that Hesse was again in possession of child pornography. A search found an unapproved cell phone and a laptop computer, and Hesse admitted using both to search for child pornography. Hesse had over 1,000 images containing child pornography, including images he’d deleted, his plea agreement says.

Hesse pleaded guilty in May to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of accessing with intent to view child pornography.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Probation Office and Homeland Security Investigations. It 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. 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 August 5, 2022