HELENA - The United States Attorney's Office announced that Richard Charles Saari, 33, of East Helena, was sentenced to a term of 135 months in prison, lifetime supervised release, and a special assessment of $100 during a federal court hearing in Helena, Montana, on April 12, 2017, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell. In addition, the defendant was also required to pay a $5,000 assessment for the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.
Saari was sentenced in connection with his November 16, 2016, guilty plea to receipt of child pornography. This case stemmed from an investigation initiated in August 2015 by a Helena Police Detective assigned to the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Investigators determined that Saari met a minor female online and then enticed the child into sending him sexually explicit images of herself via cell phone. Following the interview of the child, agents seized an electronic storage device from Saari’s East Helena home and found multiple images of child pornography. The images were organized in electronic subfolders on the storage device, each labeled with the first and last name of the female. Agents determined Saari received the images via his cell phone and then downloaded the files to the external hard drive. Agents identified several of the females depicted in the files and determined eleven of them were under the age of 18. Saari received the images of child pornography between approximately December of 2013 and September of 2015.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Rick Shelbourn stated: “The Helena Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works tirelessly to ensure communities are safe from offenders who prey on our children. This case reflects the success of that collaborative effort and the commitment to protect society’s most vulnerable from those who exploit them.”
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that Saari will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Saari does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Helena Police Department, the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, East Helena Police Department, DHS-Homeland Security Investigation and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.