A Cheyenne man pleaded guilty to two child pornography crimes during a hearing in federal court on Monday.

Michael Gregory Schaefer entered his plea to two -- receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography -- of three counts before Chief U.S. District Court Scott Skavdahl.

In exchange for Schaefer' plea, the federal prosecutor agreed to dismiss one count of production of child pornography, which is punishable by between 15 years and 30 years imprisonment.

The plea deal included a recommended sentence of 11 years, three months imprisonment.

The federal grand jury handed up the indictment on Nov. 17 and charged him with three counts:

  • From June 1, 2020, though Jan. 31, 2021, Schaefer used a minor victim -- the indictment did not indicate the victim's sex --  to produce sexually explicit videos and transmitted them in interstate commerce through the internet and cellular telephone networks.
  • From June 1, 2020, through July 15, 2022, Schaefer knowingly received  child pornography in interstate commerce through the internet and cellular telephone networks.
  • From July 2 through July 15, 2022, Schaefer knowingly possessed images of child pornography, which involved prepubescent minors, and had been transported by interstate commerce using the internet and cellular telephone networks, and using electronic devices produced outside Wyoming.

The receipt of child pornography charge is punishable by five years to 20 years imprisonment; up to a $250,000 fine; five years to life supervised probation after release from custody; a $100 special assessment; a $5,000 special assessment pursuant to the Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2015; and up to a $17,000 special assessment and mandatory restitution of not less than $3,000 per requesting victim pursuant to the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018.

The possession of child pornography charge is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, and the other penalties listed in the receipt count.

The indictment also had a notice saying he will forfeit to the government five iPhones and one iPad Pro used in the crimes.

The plea agreement's recommendation of 11 years, three months imprisonment is not certain.

Skavdahl said he is not bound by the plea agreement, which was worked out between the prosecution and the defense.

According to federal sentencing guidelines, Skavdahl calculated Schaefer's offense levels that will affect sentencing besides the plea deal's recommendation.

Schaefer had no prior criminal history, the judge said.

But the factors in the receipt count, including images of a victim under 16 and the portrayal of a sex act, amounted to a potential sentence of 17.5 years to nearly 22 years imprisonment, Skavdahl sad.

The factors in the possession count included images of prepubescent victims, images of sadism and more than 600 images. Skavdahl calculated that amounted to a potential sentence of nearly 20 years to more than 24 years.

The federal probation office will interview Schaefer and consider other factors to recommend a sentence.

That recommendation will not be known until Schaefer's sentencing, Skavdahl said.

Schaefer was arrested on Nov. 21, and pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Nov. 29.

That same day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin ordered Schaefer detained because the alleged offense involved a minor victim, a possible lengthy sentence if convicted, and his prior criminal history and lack of stable employment.

Schaefer remains in custody.

Judge Skavdahl set Schaefer's sentencing for May 25.

Children's Advocacy Project in Casper

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