WASHINGTON – A Fremont, Calif., man pleaded guilty today to possessing child pornography and attempting to extort additional child pornography images of an underage girl whom he harassed via the social networking website Facebook, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California.
James Dale Brown pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton in Oakland, Calif. In pleading guilty, Brown, 27, admitted that from December 2008 through April 2009, under the username “Bob Lewis,” he repeatedly contacted a girl he knew to be 14 years old via her Facebook webpage. According to court documents, prior to contacting the victim, Brown obtained a revealing photograph of the victim. He informed the victim that he had this photograph, and others, and suggested that he would delete all the pictures of her “from the Internet” only if she sent him a video of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct. According to court documents, to force her to send such a video, Brown threatened to expose explicit images of the victim then in his possession to the victim’s friends, who were also minors. Despite Brown’s consistent harassment, the victim resisted his efforts for several months. To carry out his threats, on April 18, 2009, Brown sent two Internet links to the victim’s friend, also a minor, which directed the victim’s friend to an explicit image of the victim. On April 23, 2009, agents from the FBI executed a search warrant on Brown’s Fremont residence.
This is the first case involving the attempted extortion of a minor for child pornography via a social networking website to be prosecuted in the Northern District of California.
Brown was originally charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on June 24, 2010, and unsealed on Aug. 27, 2010. He was arrested in Fremont on Aug. 26, 2010.
Brown is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11, 2011, before Judge Hamilton in Oakland. The maximum penalty for possession of child pornography is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and restitution if appropriate. The maximum penalty for attempted extortion is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and restitution if appropriate.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Hill of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Mi Yung Park of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov .