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Government Agency News ICE breaking news

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An investigation conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office resulted in a Virginia man pleading guilty to producing and possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on Oct. 20.

According to the investigation, from at least Dec. 11, 2018 through April 8, 2019, Chad Michael Lehofer, 37, of Fredericksburg, repeatedly engaged in sexually explicit discussions with a minor online – including enticing and coercing the minor to produce sexually explicit pictures and videos.

After the minor tried to break off contact with Lehofer, he pretended to be a different person and continued to communicate with the minor online. Lehofer sent threatening messages to the minor, telling the minor if they did not send him sexually explicit videos, he would expose them to others, including the minor’s mother and friends.

Lehofer claimed to be watching the minor’s house and would send messages indicating he knew the minor’s location, and that he would be waiting at the victim’s home. In response to these threats, the minor produced a sexually explicit video and sent it to Lehofer.

“The Washington, D.C. metro area is no refuge for child sexual predators who believe they can pursue their perverse behavior with impunity; they cannot escape justice and there will be serious consequences for their heinous actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of HSI Washington, D.C. “We remain committed to the eradication of sextortion from our communities, but we need the public’s help. HSI asks parents, guardians, teachers, caregivers – anyone who interacts with a child – to be on the lookout for, and report, suspicious online behavior to the proper authorities.”

After obtaining a warrant to search Lehofer’s cell phone, law enforcement discovered that his phone contained numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse material involving prepubescent minors.

Lehofer was previously convicted in Connecticut in 2006 for state offenses involving his sexual abuse of two minors.

Lehofer is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 16, 2023 – he faces a mandatory minimum of at least 15 years in prison.

Members of the public can report crime and suspicious activity by calling 1-866-347-2423.

Project Safe Childhood

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.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 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’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

ICE breaking news HSI Washington, D.C. investigation leads to guilty plea for production, possession of child pornography Government Agency News