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La Grange man sentenced to 30 years on child porn charges

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Sentence will run consecutively to 17 year state sentence

By Amanda Manning

An Oldham County man facing a slew of child pornography charges was sentenced to 30 years in federal court today.

This sentence is on top of a 17-year sentence he was handed down in Oldham County Circuit Court in 2015. The two sentences will run consecutively.

Richard Johnson, 39, was arrested in 2013 on the charges of possessing, transporting and advertising child pornography. He was also charged with incest and sodomy, among other charges.

In 2015, Johnson was sentenced to 17 years on the count of incest and 10 years on the count of second-degree sodomy in Oldham County. The two charges run concurrently.

Kentucky State Police arrested Johnson in September 2013 after a yearlong undercover Internet Crimes Against Children investigation. The incest and sodomy charges arose after the initial investigation into the child pornography charges, according to a previous Era report. 

Johnson was sharing, trading, and advertising child pornography online and via email according to court documents.

Law enforcement first received a tip from AOL that Johnson was transferring child pornography by email.

During a search warrant at his home in 2013, Johnson gave police devices containing videos and images. He later admitted to his actions to police, according to graphic court documents.

 “Johnson engaged in all of the conduct described above while in Oldham County,” a plea agreement states. “The images transported, possessed and advertised involved the use of children under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

State police also received a tip from Oldham County EMS of an unofficial email Johnson was using at the time. That email was tied to several child pornography and incest websites, according to court documents.

3,970 images and 40 videos were found on Johnson’s computer, according to a memorandum written by United States Attorney Russell Coleman.

Johnson pled guilty to possessing, transporting and advertising child pornography in April 2017.

“Johnson engaged in the salacious conduct all the while carrying on a seemingly normal life in a trusted position in the community,” Coleman wrote. “However, the criminal conviction in Oldham County Circuit Court…shows a different side of his personality and life.”

Johnson is a former firefighter and former employee of Oldham County EMS.

His attorney, Larry Simon, asked for him to be sentenced 15 years, while the United States Attorney’s Office asked the judge for 30 years.

Johnson didn’t speak during the hearing except to answer the judge yes or no.

La Grange Presbyterian Church Pastor Al Earley submitted a letter to the judge on behalf of Johnson and spoke during the sentencing today.  

“Around 2010, 2011, he started getting very active in the church,” Earley said. “In hindsight, he was probably also trying to get some faith and strength to resolve some of the politics he’s here for now. But we did not ever talk about that before his incarceration.”

Pastor Earley said he’s been meeting with Johnson throughout his time in jail. “I expect him to be in church when he gets out of prison,” Earley said.

During the sentencing, Senior Judge Thomas Russell said there were not any factors that favored a lenient sentence.

“In a letter to me, he asked for forgiveness and mercy requesting the court to give him a sentence of 15 years followed by a supervised sentence for life,” Russell said.

“It is hard for all of us to fathom some of the conduct,” Judge Russell added after going into detail on part of the charges.

In a letter last June, Johnson also asked Judge Russell for leniency and cited health concerns. He hung his head low during part of the sentencing.

The lowest sentence Johnson could have received today was 15 years.

Johnson will serve 85 percent of his federal sentence – 25.5 years – and 20 percent of his state sentence – 3.4 years.

Once released from prison, Johnson will be supervised for life. He is also on the lifetime sex offender registry.

This story may be updated.