Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced a Vandalia, Illinois couple was sentenced today to prison for their role in a child pornography ring operating in Fayette County. Today’s sentencing is part of Raoul’s ongoing work, in collaboration with federal law enforcement agencies and local law enforcement officials throughout Illinois, to apprehend offenders who download and trade child pornography online.
Andrew Wehrle, 39, was sentenced to 26 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to two counts of dissemination of child pornography and one count of production of child pornography. Amber Wehrle, 38, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of indecent solicitation of an adult. Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Matoush handed down the sentences.
“Child pornography is a heinous crime that re-victimizes survivors each time an image or video is downloaded or shared,” Raoul said. “I will continue to partner with our law enforcement and federal agency partners to hold perpetrators accountable and protect our communities.”
A third defendant prosecuted by Raoul, Ferrell Mason Kissiar, 47, of Vandalia, Illinois, was sentenced in July to 30 years in prison for possessing, reproducing and disseminating child pornography and indecent solicitation of an adult.
The Vandalia Police Department assisted the Attorney General’s office with the investigation.
“As law enforcement officials, it is our responsibility to protect children from harm and bring those who exploit them to justice,” said Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray. “I commend the diligent work of all those involved in this investigation and hope that the outcome of this case serves as a reminder that child pornography is a serious crime that will not be tolerated in our communities.”
The cases are part of Attorney General Raoul’s work to investigate and prosecute child pornographers in Illinois. 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 task force receives CyberTips, or online reports of child pornography, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Over the last several years, CyberTipline reports have steadily increased. In 2022, reports to the ICAC increased by 26% over 2021.
Illinois’ ICAC Task Force is one of 61 ICAC task forces throughout the country and is comprised of a network of more than 175 local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Since 2019, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has received more than 30,400 CyberTips and has been involved in more than 485 arrests of sexual predators. Since 2006, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 1,958 arrests of sexual predators. The task force also has provided internet safety training and education to more than 1 million parents, teachers and students, in addition to more than 23,844 law enforcement professionals.
Raoul reminds the public that online child sexual exploitation can be reported at www.CyberTipline.com and child abuse can be reported at dcfsonlinereporting.dcfs.illinois.gov. In addition, local child advocacy centers can be found at www.ChildrensAdvocacyCentersofIllinois.org.
Deputy Bureau Chief Shannon M. O’Brien and Assistant Attorney General Katherine Hegarty from Raoul’s High Tech Crimes Bureau prosecuted this case.