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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Monday, April 1, 2019

Erie County Man Pleads Guilty to Child Exploitation Charges

Erie, Pa. - A former resident of Girard, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Michael Robert Heinrich, 68, pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in January 2017 Heinrich took sexually explicit photos of a minor who was four years of age at the time. On February 14, 2017, Heinrich again took sexually explicit photos of that same four-year-old minor and also took a sexually explicit photo of a three-year-old minor. An examination of Heinrich’s computers and cell phone also revealed the presence of numerous other images depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. As part of his plea, Heinrich agreed to a sentence of fifteen (15) years in jail and lifetime supervised release.

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 the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for August 5, 2019 at 2:15 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 90 years in prison, a fine of $1,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Heinrich on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Heinrich.

Project Safe Childhood
Updated April 1, 2019