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TUCSON, Ariz. – An investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona resulted in a prison sentence for a local Arizona man.
Last week, Richard Lee Molinar, 44, of Safford, Arizona, was sentenced by United States District Judge Scott H. Rash to 60 months in prison for child exploitation offenses. Molinar earlier pleaded guilty to Possession of Child Pornography. Upon release, Molinar will be placed on lifetime supervised release with sex offender conditions and will be required to register as a sex offender.
“This prison sentence underscores HSI’s commitment to vigorously investigate any individual who exploits the most vulnerable members of our community – our children,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. “HSI will not tolerate the exploitation of children and will continue to use our unique investigative authorities to bring to justice anyone who attempts to violate our children.”
On July 7, 2021, Molinar was charged by a six-count indictment that alleged he received, possessed, and distributed child pornography between March 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021. Molinar pleaded guilty to count one of the indictment on June 23, which charged that on or about April 1, 2021, he possessed child pornography. Molinar admitted to possessing a phone which he used to access, download, save, and view images and 13 videos depicting minor children, many under the age of 12, who were engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Molinar received and distributed these images and videos using Facebook Messenger.
“Project Safe Childhood aims to protect the public long-term from the actions of defendants who seek to exploit children,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino. “Because of this conviction, and the diligence of our partners at Homeland Security Investigations, the defendant will be subject to stringent conditions for the rest of his life with respect to the use of the internet and participation in chat rooms and other forms of social networking.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca S. Garvey and Carin C. Duryee, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution of this case.
What if you or your child is a victim?
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users may call TTY 802-872-6196.
The NCMEC has outlined tips for parents and young people if they or their child fall victim to sextortion, including:
- Remember, the predator is to blame, not your child or you.
- Get help before deciding whether to pay money or otherwise comply with the predator. Cooperating or paying rarely stops the blackmail and continued harassment.
- REPORT the predator’s account via the platform’s safety feature.
- BLOCK the predator and DO NOT DELETE the profile or messages because that can be helpful to law enforcement in identifying and stopping them.
- Let NCMEC help get explicit images of you off the internet.
- Visit MissingKids.org/IsYourExplicitContentOutThere to learn how to notify companies yourself or visit cybertipline.org to report to us for help with the process.
- Ask for help. This can be a very complex problem and may require help from adults or law enforcement.
- If you don’t feel that you have adults in your corner, you can reach out to NCMEC for support at email@example.com or call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
Take a moment to learn how sextortion works and how to talk to your children about it. Information, resources, and conversation guides are available at ICE.gov/Sextortion.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States attorney’s 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
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