News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 27, 2013

Sextortion gets man 40 years in prison

Felon pleaded guilty to coercing more than a dozen teens

TERRE HAUTE — Authorities hope a Clay County man’s sentencing to 40 years in federal prison in a nationwide “sextortion” case against juvenile victims will send a message to others who exploit and extort people online.

“This is a warning to online predators that they are not anonymous and they cannot hide,” U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett said following the guilty plea and sentencing of 40-year-old Richard L. Finkbiner of Brazil.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence accepted Finkbiner’s guilty plea to 14 criminal counts related to sexual exploitation of children, extortion by interstate communication, and possession of child pornography.

A review of Finkbiner’s email and chat logs indicates there were at least 153 minors victimized by his online scheme to record video of children performing sexually explicit acts. But the federal case focused on 13 victims from as close as Avon, Ind., to cities in Alaska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota and West Virginia.

When police arrested Finkbiner in April 2012 and searched at his home, they found more than 22,000 video files created from webcam feeds, as well as 47,000 images that Finkbiner had downloaded, many depicting child pornography.

  “For nearly two years, this man sat in front of his home computer and orchestrated a scheme that terrorized hundreds of young people across this country,” Hogsett said. “It is our hope that today’s sentencing serves not just as a deterrent to criminals, but also as a warning to Hoosier families as to the dangers that can lurk on these anonymous chat websites.”

The plea agreement submitted to the court set a sentencing range of 30 to 50 years in prison. Finkbiner’s defense attorneys argued for a 30-year sentence, noting that he had no prior criminal history and had not physically touched any of the children.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Myers argued for a 50-year sentence, noting that one female victim was so distraught about Finkbiner’s threats to make her his “cam slave” that she attempted to commit suicide.

The maximum sentence on each of the criminal counts would be 344 years if ran consecutively. Judge Lawrence said that considering Finkbiner’s current age, a 40-year sentence would be a “life” sentence for him. The judge also ordered that Finkbiner pay a special assessment fee of $1,400, pay a $70,000 fine, and receive treatment while in prison for sexual disorders. If he is released from prison after serving his sentence, the judge ordered supervised release for the remainder of Finkbiner’s life.

“The 40-year sentence imposed today was justice,” Myers said, “and we hope it provides some measure of comfort and closure to the victims and their families.”

The prosecutors also encouraged parents to educate their children and themselves to prevent children from becoming victims of sextortion cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brant Cook said parents should remember the tried and true rules about personal safety and apply them to the digital age.

“Parents have long understood that children shouldn’t ride their bikes alone 10 miles to the park. They tell them not to go into strangers houses,” Cook said. “We ask parents to get involved in their children’s online and digital lives, too.”

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

 

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