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Press Release

Former University Professor Sentenced for Child Pornography and Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

DAVENPORT, Iowa – On Friday, July 21, 2023, a former professor at the University of Iowa was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine which resulted in the death of a victim, and 20 years in prison for possessing child pornography. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently, or at the same time.

According to court documents, since sometime in 2020, Dr. John Robert Muriello, 66, conspired with Eric Hojka of Iowa City, and others, to obtain and distribute methamphetamine in and around Iowa City. In May 2021, first responders went to Hojka’s apartment in Iowa City based on a report that a victim who had lost consciousness. Paramedics were unable to revive the victim and he was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed the victim ingested methamphetamine which caused his death. The investigation revealed the victim received that methamphetamine from Hojka. Hojka obtained the methamphetamine from Muriello, who had obtained the drugs from a supplier in California. When the police conducted a search at Muriello’s Iowa City residence in May 2021, they discovered methamphetamine and a large collection of child pornography.

In addition to the 25-year prison term, Muriello was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,000, a fine of $50,000, and assessments of $22,200. Muriello’s Iowa City residence was also forfeited. After his prison term, Muriello was also ordered to serve a five-year term of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. The Iowa City Police Department and the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office investigated the case.


MacKenzie Tubbs
Public Information Officer 

Updated July 25, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Drug Trafficking