Longtime Maryland Heights police officer sentenced for child pornography crimes

ST. LOUIS — A man who worked as a Maryland Heights police officer for more than 30 years was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison for soliciting nude photos of teenage girls. 

Gregory Ortlip, 57, pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted possession of child pornography in July. Prosecutors said he messaged an undercover investigator pretending to be a 14-year-old girl on a video messaging platform in 2021 and asked her for photographs. He had also previously messaged a 16-year-old girl who sent him photos of herself, according to a plea agreement. 

Gregory Ortlip

Gregory Ortlip, in a photo courtesy of the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office

On Tuesday, Ortlip’s attorney Joseph Flees outlined his client’s “fall from grace,” which included his conviction, his divorce and his estrangement from his adult daughter. 

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Ortlip himself didn’t address the court, but in a letter to the judge, he outlined his successes as a police officer, saving lives and counseling citizens. But he also faced great stress, he said, exacerbating unacknowledged mental health problems and addictions to alcohol and pornography. 

“If I was to seek help, I feared I would be looked down upon as weak not only by my family (and) the citizens, but by my peers,” he wrote. “I was not strong enough to face them all.” 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to ask for four years in prison in exchange for his guilty plea. 

“It is hard, I think, for anyone, perhaps you as well, to understand how you got yourself into this situation,” U.S. District Judge John A. Ross said to Ortlip before issuing his sentence. “You have brought, by your conduct, disgrace, to some extent, on law enforcement.” 

Ross then ordered Ortlip to spend four years in prison followed by a life of supervision.