Gerald Hechenberger

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A former southern Illinois priest who pleaded guilty last year to distributing child pornography and processing methamphetamine has received a nine-year prison sentence.

Gerald Hechenberger, who formerly pastored Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah, was sentenced Tuesday in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

He was arrested at the church in January 2018 after police received a tip from the organization Internet Crimes Against Children.

He was stripped of his priestly duties within days of his arrest.