Former Ash Flat Fireman John Paul Richeson was sentenced to 108 months in prison by Judge J. Leon Holmes on Sept. 2, for receipt of child pornography.
The conviction stems from a Sept. 25, 2007, incident in which an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent downloaded 15 files from Richeson's computer. Thirteen of the files contained child pornography. At the time the offense occurred, Richeson was a fireman for the Ash Flat Fire Department.
After executing a federal search warrant on March 3, 2008, at Richeson's home, he consented to an interview with the agents.
According to a press release provided by the Jane W. Duke with the United States Attorney's office of the Eastern District of Arkansas, Richeson admitted to agents that he had been downloading child pornography for nearly a year. The pornography included between 70-80 still images as well as 20-30 videos of children between the ages of 3 to 16 involved in sexual conduct. He also admitted to trying to hide the items from his wife by deleting the images.
The report said that the images the undercover officer downloaded were no longer on the laptop seized in the search, but the "residual filenames" were still on the hard drive. In addition to the files downloaded earlier by the officer, additional files were located and had been downloaded on Feb. 26, 2008, only a few days prior to the search.
Since the incident, four people have reported to area law enforcement allegations that Richeson had molested them over a 20 years ago.
Ash Flat Fire Chief Stacy Horton had no comment on the conviction and simply said, "It did not happen here." (referring to the Ash Flat Fire Department).
U.S. Attorney Jane W. Duke said, "Victimization of children is a serious offense, whether that victimization is through the distribution and receipt of child pornography or the actual molestation of children. Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who wish to being harm to children."
Terms of Richeson's sentence, which derived from his guilty plea in the Eastern District of Arkansas, include 15 years of probation following his 108 month sentence. Richeson is also required to participate in mental health counseling as well as treatment. He must also register as a sex offender, have no Internet access without prior permission from his probation officer and no contact with minor children, unless he is given permission.
Richeson has been in custody since his September, 2008 arrest.