U.S. Attorney’s Office and Project Safe Childhood partners announce latest ongoing efforts to protect children

Local News

With September marking the start of school back in session, it’s an appropriate time to highlight the work that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Project Safe Childhood partners are doing to prevent, investigate and prosecute sexual predators, abuses and pornographers who target children.

The Project Safe Childhood (PSC) is an initiative within the Department of Justice that marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as identify and rescue victims.

Over the past few weeks, a total 15 defendants have been indicted, pleaded guilty or sentenced across Western Pennsylvania in recent weeks, including two such cases from the Erie area.

The first case involved the sentencing of 68-year old Michael Robert Heinrich of Girard to 15 years in prison. He was sentenced on August 12th. In January 2017 and again in February, Heinrich took sexually explicit photos of a four-year old minor as well as three-year old minor. A search of Heinrich’s computer and cell phone revealed other images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police.

The second local case involved the guilty plea of 47-year old Matthew Poese of Fairview. He waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a charge of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children. The court was advised that Poese possessed computer images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He was previously employed as a camp counselor at the YMCA camp in Eastern Ohio. U.S. District Judge David Cercone scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2019. The law provides a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

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