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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 19, 2020

Long Island Man Indicted on Sexual Exploitation and Child Pornography Charges

Defendant Allegedly Traveled from New York to the Philippines to Engage in Sexual Activity with 13-Year-Old Girl in Exchange for Money

An indictment was filed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Thomas Blaha with traveling to the Philippines with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, sexual exploitation of a child, distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography.  Blaha was arrested on a complaint in February 2020 and released on a $1 million bond.  He will be arraigned at a later date.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the charges.

“The defendant allegedly traveled halfway across the globe to sexually exploit a minor that he had enticed through Facebook and create child pornography,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting children from online predators by identifying such offenders and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law.”  

“It is alleged Blaha made trips to the Philippines to sexually abuse a 13-year old female who was being exploited for money,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.  “Crimes involving the sexual exploitation of unwitting children are the most heinous and will not be tolerated, regardless of where the sexual acts occur.  HSI is a global investigative agency, and with our resources and partnerships with the United States Attorney’s Office, we will stop at nothing to put an end to child victimization worldwide.”

According to court filings, in September and October 2019 Blaha traveled from New York to the Philippines to engage in sexual activity with a 13-year-old female and persuade her to take sexually explicit images of herself and send them to him in exchange for money.  As a part of the government’s investigation, in December 2019, search warrants were obtained for Blaha’s Facebook account, as well as his residence in Garden City and his electronic devices.  The searches revealed hundreds of images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.        

The charges in the indictment are allegations only, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, Blaha faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.

This prosecution 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 United States Attorneys’ Offices, 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.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Anna L. Karamigios is in charge of the prosecution.   

The Defendant:

THOMAS BLAHA
Age:  64
Garden City, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-220 (JMA)

 

Attachment(s): 
Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Contact: 
John Marzulli United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated June 19, 2020