Court news

ERIE - A former Spartansburg resident was recently sentenced to serve 15 years in federal prison for taking sexually explicit photographs of two young children in 2017.

Michael Robert Heinrich, 68, will also have a lifetime supervised release when he's let go from prison and pay a $5,300 special assessment as part of the sentence imposed on him Monday in federal court by U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone.

According to information presented to the court, Heinrich took sexually explicit photos of a 4-year-old in January of 2017. He took additional sexually explicit photos of the same minor as well as a 3-year-old on Feb. 14, 2017.

Numerous other images depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexual conduct were found when investigators searched Heinrich's computers and cellphone.

Heinrich was indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on nine counts of charges associated with the production and possession of child pornography in June of 2017 and was the sole defendant of a 16-county second superseding indictment in December.

In April, Heinrich pled guilty to three felony charges related to the sexual exploitation of children.

Heinrich was also listed as a former resident of the city of Erie and Girard. The Erie Times-News reported he lived at Erie's Maria House Project in home detention as he waited to be prosecuted.

The FBI and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Heinrich. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian A. Trabold prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Brady commended the FBI and PSP for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Heinrich.

Jeinrich's case was brought forward 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.

Project Safe Childhood is led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). The project assembles 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, visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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