Longhibler pleads guilty in child pornography case

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

CAPE GIRARDEAU — A Poplar Bluff woman pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday morning to producing child pornography.

Amber M. Longhibler pleaded guilty as charged to the felony of sexual exploitation of a minor (production of child pornography) before U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr., according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Koester.

The agreed-upon facts of the case say on Feb. 26, law enforcement officials made contact with Longhibler’s codefendant, Brandon M. Hopper, at his Poplar Bluff residence in regard to a child pornography investigation.

Hopper “voluntarily agreed to speak with investigators,” according to the plea agreement signed by Longhibler.

Hopper was a Poplar Bluff police officer at the time and later was terminated after his arrest.

“During the interview, Hopper admitted that he and the defendant, Amber M. Longhibler, had been exchanging pornographic material over the internet,” the plea agreement further says. “Hopper stated he used his mobile phone to send and receive material over the internet.”

Hopper, the plea agreement says, voluntarily turned over his iPhone and gave written consent for investigators to search its contents.

“After turning over the phone, Hopper informed investigators that they would find sexually explicit images depicting ‘minor female No. 1,’” the plea agreement further says. “Hopper explained that ‘minor female No. 1’ was a relative of Longhibler who was under 18 years of age.”

Hopper reportedly described an image, which depicted sexually explicit conduct involving both him and the girl.

“Hopper told investigators that Longhibler took that particular photograph,” the plea agreement says.

Hopper reportedly also told investigators Longhibler sent him several other sexually explicit images of the girl.

When investigators interviewed Longhibler, “she confirmed that she had taken numerous photographs of ‘minor female No. 1’ using her mobile phone,” the plea agreement says. “ … Longhibler also confirmed that she took the photograph of ‘minor female No. 1’” with Hopper.

Longhibler reportedly admitted to using her iPhone to send the images to Hopper.

Investigators reportedly confirmed there were sexually explicit images of “minor female No. 1” on both Apple iPhones.

With her plea, Longhibler admitted she “knowingly used ‘minor female No. 1’ … to engage in sexually explicit conduct, and that she did so for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct,” the plea agreement says.

After accepting Longhibler’s plea, Koester said, Limbaugh set sentencing for Dec. 8.

“This offense carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years, and the maximum penalty is 30 years,” Koester said. “A presentence investigation report will be prepared prior to the sentencing hearing.”

At the time of sentencing, the government is expected to dismiss the felony of receipt and distribution of child pornography.

Hopper also was indicted on the felonies of sexual exploitation of a child (production of child pornography) and receipt and distribution of child pornography.

Koester said Hopper is to appear Oct. 20 before Limbaugh for a plea or trial setting in his case.

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