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Press Release

Orlando Man Pleads Guilty To Producing And Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material

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

Orlando, Florida– United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Thomas Zayas (45, Orlando) has pleaded guilty to enticing a minor child to produce sexually explicit videos and to possessing child sexual abuse material. Zayas faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, and up to 30 years, in federal prison for production of child sexual abuse material, up to 10 years’ imprisonment for possession of child sexual abuse material. He faces a potential life term of supervised release on all counts. A sentencing date has been set for October 26, 2022.

According to the plea agreement, in approximately July 2022, Zayas, posing as a teenage boy, used a messaging application to contact a 12-year-old child. After the child grew tired of Zayas’s romantic advances, the child stopped communicating with Zayas. Zayas then contacted the child again, this time posing as the sister of the teenage boy. Zayas threatened to physically hurt the child for ending the “relationship” with the fictional brother, and as a result, the child agreed to continue a friendship with the original persona. In order to scare the child and prove that Zayas knew who the child was, where she lived, and where the child went to school, Zayas sent the child a photo of the child’s apartment complex and a yearbook photo of the child from the child’s middle school. Zayas then requested several nude images and videos of the child performing sexual acts, and he instructed the child on what to do in the images and videos. Initially the child refused, afraid that Zayas would post the photos on the internet to harm the child. After promising not to use the images to harm the child, the child eventually sent Zayas sexually explicit videos and photos. The demands from Zayas continued, and when the child did not comply with Zayas’s requests, Zayas became hostile and threatened to expose the child with the nude videos and images the child had previously sent.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) was made aware of Zayas when a school resource officer was contacted by a parent who had received via text message a collage depicting sexually explicit photos of the child. OSCO investigators were able to trace the aliases to Zayas through phone records, and with the help of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General, also discovered evidence of an order for flowers, which Zayas had delivered to the child’s middle school, from his work-issued laptop.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Harrington.

This is another case 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

Updated July 28, 2022

Project Safe Childhood