WILIMINGTON, Del. – Joseph J. Leonetti, Jr., Former Union President of the Wilmington Fire Department, pled guilty today before the Honorable Colm F. Connolly to possessing prepubescent child pornography, announced David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware. Mr. Leonetti faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on August 24, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
According to publicly filed documents and statements made in open court, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Leonetti’s Wilmington residence on June 19, 2020, and seized his personal cellphone. After a later forensic review of that cellphone, investigators found nine videos and more than 500 cached images of child pornography. A cache is a reserved storage location that collects temporary data for easy retrieval. Also, in the cellphone’s “Notes” app, investigators found links to folders associated with cloud-based file storage services Dropbox and Mega. Investigators were able to recover the contents of four linked folders, containing over 2,000 images and 800 videos of child pornography. The child pornography found on the defendant’s cellphone and in the linked folders included depictions of prepubescent minors engaged in various sexual acts and the lascivious exhibition of their genitals.
U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated as follows: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware is committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us—our children—from the abhorrent shadow industry that produces, distributes, and collects child pornography and from those who lurk in its base marketplace. This Office fulfills its commitment without regard to the occupation or privilege of the wrongdoer. No one is above the law.”
“The defendant, while in a position of trust as the former Wilmington Fire Department Union President, possessed depictions of the sexual exploitation of prepubescent children,” said Brian A. Michael, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia. The innocent children in these images will have to deal with the impact of this tragedy for the rest of their lives. We hope today’s plea brings them some measure of justice.”
Homeland Security Investigations investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham L. Robinson prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, 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.