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Ex-turnpike worker gets 16 years in child porn case | TribLIVE.com
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Ex-turnpike worker gets 16 years in child porn case

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 12:01 a.m

A former Pennsylvania Turnpike worker from Fayette County was sentenced Wednesday to serve more than 16 years and eight months in a federal prison followed by 15 years of probation after pleading guilty last spring to a charge of producing child pornography.

Lisa A. Renze, 49, of Uniontown was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer. She could have received a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both, according to sentencing guidelines.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton’s office said that between 2009 and 2011, Renze persuaded a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct while she took photos.

Renze and her attorney, Casey White, argued that she was afraid of her supervisor at the turnpike, John S. Longo, 57, of Hempfield, who was indicted, and that Longo forced her to take the pictures.

“She still believes to this day that she was abused by Mr. Longo,” White said.

Renze apologized to her family and friends and the victim for failing to consider the impact her crimes would have on them.

“I acted in a very selfish manner,” she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bloch said the government had no evidence of Longo threatening her. Instead, Block told Fischer that Renze discussed in emails Longo’s enjoyment of the pictures and speculated on whether they could make money off the images.

“There is nothing embodied in these emails suggesting that Mr. Longo is threatening her,” Bloch said.

There’s also no evidence that Renze threatened to go to the police to make Longo stop requesting more pictures, she said.

“There’s no evidence that she’s being forced,” Bloch said.

Fischer said that whatever Longo did doesn’t excuse Renze’s actions.

“You’re a grown woman,” she said. “You’re an educated woman.”

Family and friends sent Fischer at least 15 letters asking for leniency and four of them testified Wednesday, including her father, Robert Renze, who said his daughter was well-behaved growing up. She never lied to him and he never had to spank her, he said.

“It’s hard to believe that I’m standing here today,” Robert Renze told the judge.

As part of its plea agreement with Renze, the government will file a motion seeking a reduction in the sentence after finishing its prosecution of Longo, Bloch said.

The amount of the reduction requested will depend on the government’s evaluation of how much she aided in that prosecution. However, Bloch said “in no case” will the judge be asked to reduce the sentence to less than 12 years.

Court documents indicate the photos were given to Longo, “her friend and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission co-worker” between June 5, 2009, and Nov. 12, 2010. According to court documents filed with the case, Longo and Renze had a relationship away from work as well when the incidents occurred.

On Aug. 28, Longo pleaded guilty to a count of producing child pornography. He could receive a minimum of 15 years in prison when Barry Fischer sentences him on Jan. 22.

The cases were prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative started in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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