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Press Release

Illinois Man Charged with Attempted Sexual Exploitation of Two Boys Through Online Video Games

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – An Illinois man was indicted yesterday in U.S. District Court in Springfield in connection with exploiting boys through online video games.

Zack Sawyer, 31, was indicted on two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of children.  Sawyer was previously charged in a criminal complaint.

According to court documents, Sawyer used online interactive video games including X-Box Live games and MineCraft to communicate with two boys, aged 10 to 13 years old, in Massachusetts. 

In approximately May 2010, Sawyer used X-Box Live to contact two 13 year-old boys in Hampshire County, Mass.  Sawyer allegedly asked one boy to send him nude photographs, and when the boy refused, Sawyer threatened to rape him and kill him.  Sawyer allegedly asked the second boy to send him naked pictures and when the boy refused, Sawyer also threatened to rape him, claiming that he had a drug that would paralyze people.  This conduct forms the basis of the current Indictment.

The charging statute provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police Superintendent, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Ortiz’s Springfield Branch Office.

Updated July 5, 2016

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