A Virginia man pleaded guilty today to production and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
According to court documents, between December 2018 and April 2019, Chad Michael Lehofer, 37, of Fredericksburg, repeatedly engaged in sexually explicit discussions with a minor online, enticed and coerced the minor to produce sexually explicit pictures and videos, and directed the minor to send the pictures and videos to Lehofer. When the minor tried to break off contact with him, Lehofer pretended to be a different person and continued to communicate with the minor online under that false identity. Lehofer sent threatening messages to the minor, telling the minor that if the minor did not send him sexually explicit videos, he would expose the minor to others, including the minor’s mother and friends. Lehofer claimed to be watching the minor’s house and would send the minor messages indicating that he knew the minor’s location and that he would be waiting at the minor’s home. In response to these threats, the minor produced a sexually explicit video and sent it to Lehofer.
After obtaining a warrant to search Lehofer’s cell phone, law enforcement discovered 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. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. made the announcement.
Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zoe Bedell and Lauren Halper for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.
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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.