Kern County Man Pleads Guilty To Receipt And Distribution Of Child Pornography In “Sextortion” Case
FRESNO, Calif. — Brian Caputo, 27, of Arvin, pleaded guilty today to receipt and distribution of child pornography, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between December 2008 and February 2014, Caputo used various social media accounts to pose as a girl and communicate with dozens of minor females throughout the United States. Soon after establishing communication with the minors, Caputo would threaten to reveal sexually explicit images of their friends unless they created and sent him images of themselves posing nude or otherwise engaging in sexually explicit conduct. In June 2013, Caputo contacted a 12-year-old girl in El Paso, Texas and threatened to distribute sexually explicit pictures of her 11-year-old friend unless she sent nude images of herself to Caputo. The victim told a family member who contacted the El Paso Police Department.
When law enforcement investigators traced the threatening communications to Caputo, they discovered that he had been victimizing other minors across the United States. For example, Caputo convinced one victim to take more than 660 sexually explicit images of herself and upload them to a Dropbox account that Caputo controlled.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the El Paso Police Department and the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Tierney is prosecuting the case.
Caputo is scheduled to be sentenced on August 8, 2016. Caputo faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for receipt or distribution of child pornography and a $250,000 fine for each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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