Two metro-east men arrested in crackdown on child porn

News-DemocratMarch 7, 2014 

Two metro-east men are among the 57 people arrested in a statewide "Operation Glass House" to crack down on child pornography.

Ryan Scott Richards, 40, of Lebanon has been charged with two counts of disseminating child pornography. It is a Class X felony, and eligible for an enhanced sentence of 9-30 years in prison due to a prior conviction and the ages of the children involved, according to a statement from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Also arrested was Joshua R. Phipps, 26, of Glen Carbon. Phipps has been charged with four counts of possessing child pornography, a Class X felony punishable by 6-30 years in prison, and one county of Class 1 child pornography, punishable by 4-15 years in prison.

Richards also is charged with two counts of possessing child pornography, a Class 1 felony punishable by 4-15 years in prison. According to Madigan, Richards' house was raided Wednesday in cooperation with the Lebanon Police Department and allegedly evidence of child pornography was found.

"In a time when most law enforcement agencies are struggling with limited resources, it only makes sense to work together," said Lebanon Chief Scott Abbott.

Richards will be prosecuted by the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office. He is listed in the Illinois Sex Offender Registry and is in custody in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of bail set at $500,000.

"These alleged acts are disturbing and are threats to our children's well-being," St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said. "The continued close coordination between the attorney general and my office shows we'll do whatever it takes to protect the kids of Illinois."

Glen Carbon Police and investigators raided Phipps' house on Thursday and allegedly found evidence of child pornography. Phipps is currently in custody in the Madison County Jail in lieu of bail set at $250,000.

"Those that prey upon our children should be charged to the fullest extent of the law," Glen Carbon Police Chief John Lakin said.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons praised Madigan's effort to seek out and expose producers and disseminators of child pornography.

"Images and videos of abused children represent some of the worst and most unimaginably awful behavior that predators are inflicting on the innocent among us," Gibbons said. "The production and sharing of child pornography is a hidden danger to our children and our entire community."