Ex-Gifford postmaster sentenced to prison over child porn

Ex-Gifford postmaster sentenced to prison over child porn

URBANA — The former postmaster of Gifford has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for both receiving and possessing child pornography.

U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce imposed the sentence Friday on Thomas Ihlenfeld, 59, who lived in Rantoul before his arrest last year.

He had no prior criminal convictions.

Represented by Urbana attorney Steve Beckett, Ihlenfeld pleaded guilty last fall to the two counts filed against him by the government in late February 2017.

Ihlenfeld was accused of accessing files containing pornographic images of prepubescent girls engaged in sex acts.

FBI agents had investigated him for months prior to his Feb. 23, 2017, arrest. In a search of his home on Pincrest Drive in Rantoul the day before, agents found an external hard drive with child pornography on it and another laptop computer hidden up the flue of the chimney.

Ihlenfeld admitted to agents he had downloaded pornographic materials for his own use for several years.

He faced a maximum of 20 years for receiving child pornography but received 10 years for that. He also received the maximum 10 years for possession of child pornography. Those terms will run at the same time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie Boyle had argued for the 121-month sentence that Ihlenfeld received.

Beckett argued for a sentence at the low end of the federal guidelines for his client, a former military police officer who served at Chanute Air Force Base in the late 1970s. After his honorable discharge from the military, Ihlenfeld began a 23-year career with the U.S. Postal Service.

Ihlenfeld was the postmaster in Gifford when the small northeastern Champaign County village was ravaged by a tornado in fall 2013. He retired from the postal service in 2014, Beckett said.

Beckett said Ihlenfeld told the judge his forced retirement caused him to be depressed and feel isolated and led him into the pornography.

"He acknowleged the problem his isolation had caused him and called child pornography a demon," Beckett recounted.

Beckett said his client told the judge he wanted to be sent to a prison where he could receive treatment for his pornography addiction. Beckett said a sex offender evaluator found Ihlenfeld to be at a low-to-moderate risk to offend.

In addition to his prison sentence, Ihlenfeld paid $9,000 in restitution to three victims, identified through a national child pornography victim database, who were depicted in the images he had.

He also had to pay a $5,000 special assessment.

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GLG wrote on February 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

How about he give his Post Office  pension to the Federal Bureau of prisons so he can pay his own way!

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