Joseph Leonetti Sentenced for Possessing Child Pornography

Former Wilmington Fire Department Union President, Joseph J. Leonetti Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison for Possessing Child Pornography

WILMINGTON, DE (STL.News) David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney, announced today that Joseph J. Leonetti, Jr., Former Union President of the Wilmington Fire Department, was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.  Leonetti pled guilty to one count of possessing child pornography on April 21, 2021.  Chief Judge Colm F. Connolly pronounced the sentence.

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.  Following a forensic review of that cellphone, investigators found videos and cached images of child pornography.  A cache is a reserved storage location that collects temporary data for easy retrieval.  Investigators also found that Leonetti had deleted evidence from his phone when he saw law enforcement arrive at his house; namely, Leonetti deleted the Kik application–a messenger and group chat application that Leonetti had used to chat in a group dedicated to pedophilia and onto which Leonetti had uploaded a video of child pornography.

Last, in the cellphone’s “Notes” application, investigators found links to folders associated with cloud-based file storage services Dropbox and Mega.  The contents of some of these links contained additional 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 Weiss stated, “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.”

“Mr. Leonetti, while in a position of trust as a Firefighter and Union President for the Wilmington Fire Department, possessed sexually explicit photographs and videos of prepubescent children,” said Brian A. Michael, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations, Philadelphia.  “Although we are pleased with the sentence handed down today, the lives of these children have been tragically impacted by the defendants’ actions.  No sentence will reverse the physical and mental abuse that they have endured.  Homeland Security Investigations will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute any person whose actions fuel a demand for this sexual abuse and exploitation.”

Homeland Security Investigations investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham L. Robinson prosecuted the case.