News and Press Releases

Judge Sentences Brentwood Man to 20 Years in Prison for Sextortion

October 1, 2012

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pa. was sentenced in federal court for violating federal child sexual exploitation laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Russell Freed, 44, was sentenced by United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry to serve 240 months in prison followed by supervised release for the rest of his life.

Between Sept. 1, 2010, and May 25, 2011, Freed used coercion and deception to induce, and to attempt to induce, 15-year-old female victims to produce many sexually explicit images of themselves and to then send the images to him via cell phone text messages. Once Freed possessed a sexually explicit image of a particular victim, he would coerce, or attempt to coerce, the production of more sexually explicit images by threatening to distribute the images he already possessed to the victim's family members and classmates. Freed did distribute the images to family members and classmates when he did not get his way. In the process of committing his crimes, Freed posed as his step-daughter and subjected her to ridicule.

Assistant United States Attorney Craig W. Haller prosecuted this case on behalf of the United States.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Ross Township Police Department, the Pittsburgh High Tech Crimes Task Force, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Brentwood Police Department for the successful investigation leading to the conviction and sentence in this case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

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