DENVER – Brandi Leonard, age 20, was sentenced last week by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to serve 240 months (20 years), followed by 10 years on supervised release for production of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver Division Acting Special Agent in Charge John Eisert, and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Commander for Colorado Lieutenant Christina Sheppard of the Colorado Springs Police Department announced. Co-defendant Richard Hennis, age 41, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was previously sentenced also by Judge Brimmer to serve 324 months (27 years) in federal prison for the production and transportation of child pornography. Following his prison sentence, Hennis was also ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release. Defendant Leonard, who appeared at the hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.
Leonard and co-defendant Hennis were first charged by criminal complaints on March 11, 2016. They were then indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 5, 2016. Leonard pled guilty on April 13, 2017, and was sentenced on August 3, 2017. Hennis pled guilty before Judge Brimmer on November 21, 2016, and was sentenced on April 19, 2017.
According to evidence presented in open court, as well as information contained in public filings, including the stipulated facts contained in Leonard’s plea agreement, Leonard and Hennis engaged in online chats spanning approximately one month. Leonard told Hennis that she had sexually abused an infant. Hennis encouraged Leonard to sexually abuse the infant again, to take pictures or video of the abuse, and to send them to him. Leonard did exactly what Hennis had asked. Law enforcement recovered the pictures that were produced of the infant from Hennis’s phone. Hennis then sent the sexual abuse images of the infant to another individual he was communicating with online.
During their chats, the two defendants discussed in graphic detail kidnapping, raping, killing and dismembering a child between the ages of 4 and 8 years old. Leonard twice during the chat indicated that she didn’t intend to go through with it.
“Understand this: federal law enforcement has highly motivated, expert teams standing ready to present the harshest possible punishment if you victimize an infant,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.
“Crimes perpetrated against children are especially heinous,” said John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “I’m proud of the work HSI and our law enforcement partners did to identify these malicious predators and rescue the victim in this egregious case — as well as prevent potential future crimes against other children.”
“The Colorado ICAC would like to thank all individuals that assisted with this investigation,” said ICAC Commander for Colorado, Lieutenant Christina Sheppard of the Colorado Springs Police Department. “Due to their tireless efforts a conviction was obtained and the defendant was sentenced appropriately.”
This case was investigated by HSI and the Colorado Springs Police Department’s ICAC Unit, with support provided by the Limon Police Department.
The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia L. Riewerts, assigned to the Cybercrime and National Security Section of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Colorado