Darin Richardson, 50, of Zion.

A judge sentenced a Zion man to 12 years in prison on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography following an investigation by the Illinois attorney general and police.

Darin Richardson, 52, of Zion, was charged with 15 counts of possession of child pornography, which are Class 2 felonies.

In November, Richardson pleaded guilty to five of the counts in exchange for the remainder being dismissed, court records show.

The investigation into Richardson was initiated by the Racine County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin, which notified Illinois authorities after a subpoena response showed he was an Illinois resident.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, investigators with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations all assisted the attorney general’s office in the investigation.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in July 2020 that his investigators, along with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, conducted a search warrant at Richardson’s residence on West State Line Road in Zion.

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Prosecutors alleged that Richardson possessed child pornography involving a victim under the age of 13.

Richardson was taken into custody and has remained held in the Lake County Jail on a $300,000 bond since his arrest.

Lake County Judge Patricia Fix on Wednesday sentenced Richardson to 12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“Survivors of child exploitation and abuse are re-victimized each and every time an image is downloaded or shared online,” Raoul said.

“This sentencing highlights the importance of collaborative work between the Attorney General’s office, local law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys throughout Illinois to ensure justice for victims of exploitation and sexual assault,” Raoul said.

Richardson was previously court-martialed and found guilty in 1991 of committing an indecent act upon a male under the age of 16, committing an indecent act upon a female under the age of 16, taking indecent liberties with a male under the age of 16, and taking indecent liberties with a female under the age of 16.

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Richardson had been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army and sentenced to six years confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. for those crimes.

“I am very proud of the collaboration in this investigation and arrest, which led to the apprehension of a man who preyed on our most vulnerable,” Sheriff John Idleburg said.

“Child predators commonly lurk in the shadows of the internet. I cannot stress it enough: parents, please be proactive in monitoring who your children communicate with online,” Idleburg added.

Raoul’s office, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force that investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement agencies.

The Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 1,700 arrests of sexual predators since 2006.