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Press Release

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Production and Possession of Child Pornography

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Fredericksburg man pleaded guilty today to production and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to court documents, from at least December 11, 2018 through April 8, 2019, Chad Michael Lehofer, 37, repeatedly engaged in sexually explicit discussions with a minor online and enticed and coerced the minor to produce sexually explicit pictures and videos and send them to Lehofer. After the minor tried to break off contact with him, Lehofer pretended to be a different person and continued to communicate with the minor online. Lehofer sent threatening messages to the minor, telling the minor that if the minor did not send him sexually explicit videos, he would expose the minor to others, including the minor’s mother and friends. Lehofer claimed to be watching the minor’s house and would send the minor messages indicating he knew the minor’s location and he would be waiting at the minor’s home. In response to these threats, the minor produced a sexually explicit video and sent it to Lehofer.

After obtaining a warrant to search Lehofer’s cell phone, law enforcement discovered that his phone contained numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse material involving prepubescent minors. Lehofer was previously convicted in Connecticut in 2006 for state offenses involving his sexual abuse of two minors.

Lehofer is scheduled to be sentenced on February 16, 2023. He faces a mandatory minimum of at least 15 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; and Derek W. Gordon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Washington, D.C., made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Nachmanoff accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zoe Bedell and Lauren Halper, as well as Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo from the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the 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.justice.gov/psc.

In 2021, EDVA launched “UnMasked,” a community-based educational outreach and prevention program in Virginia dedicated to raising awareness and educating the community about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation involving children and young adults. UnMasked is a multi-disciplinary partnership of local, state, federal, and non-profit stakeholders. The core curriculum is provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) NetSmartz program. To report an incident involving online sexual exploitation, call 1-800-843-5678 or submit a report at report.cybertip.org. To request an UnMasked event at your school or organization, please contact EDVA’s Community Outreach Coordinator at USAVAE-UnMasked@usdoj.gov.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-82.

Updated October 20, 2022

Topic
Project Safe Childhood