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Press Release

Rapid City Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

RAPID CITY - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken has sentenced a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of Receipt of Child Pornography. The sentencing took place on August 14, 2023.

Gary Heckel, 71, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Heckel will also be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Heckel was indicted for Receipt of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography by a federal grand jury in August of 2022. He pleaded guilty on March 24, 2023.

Heckel was federally indicted following a Cybertip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children in relation to suspected child pornography from Dropbox. The Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce executed a search warrant on Heckel’s home and located multiple devices. A forensic examination of those devices found over 84,000 images of child pornography and over 46,000 videos of child pornography.

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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

This case was investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rapid City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah B. Collins prosecuted the case.

Heckel was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated August 16, 2023

Project Safe Childhood