JEFFERSON COUNTY, IL — A 49-year-old Mt. Vernon man pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Jefferson County Court to seven of nine child sex crime charges against him that will likely see him sentenced to prison for the rest of his life. Michael Wheeler was arrested in the case last summer. He’s now scheduled to be sentenced in the case on March 2 following the open plea he filed Tuesday.
According to the Jefferson County State’s Attorney, Wheeler pleaded open to Counts 3 through 9, which include five Class X felony charges for child pornography that must be served consecutively and could result in sentences of between 30 and 150 years in prison. The two Class 2 felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13 could fetch sentences of between 3 and 7 years in prison.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Wheeler on the two counts sexual assault stemming from two reported victims and bail was set at $2 million. He was later charged in an indictment with the other offenses. Wheeler was taken into custody after the sheriff’s office received a complaint and an image of child pornography was seized from an electronic device.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Kozuszek.