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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 31, 2022

Somerset County Man Pleads to Child Sexual Exploitation Charges

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A former resident of Somerset County pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of possession and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

Kristian E. Heller, 46, of Windber, PA pleaded guilty to Count One of the Indictment before Senior United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson.

In connection with the guilty plea, on or about April 20, 2021, Heller knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully, possessed one or more visual depictions, namely, videos and images in individual computer graphic files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and which depict prepubescent minors and minors who have not attained 12 years of age, engaging in sexually explicit conduct, all of which had been shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce, by means of a computer, and all of which had been produced using materials which had been mailed and shipped in interstate and foreign commerce.

Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for June 2, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Arnold P. Bernard Jr. is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Heller.

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 better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated January 31, 2022