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Press Release

Tompkins County Man Sentenced to More Than 12 Years in Federal Prison for Attempting to Coerce a Child to Engage in Unlawful Sexual Conduct and Possessing a Loaded Handgun as a Convicted Felon

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Joel Cook, 49, of Ithaca, New York, was sentenced yesterday to serve 151 months in prison for Attempted Coercion and Enticement of a Minor, and a concurrent 151 months for possessing a loaded handgun as a prohibited person by virtue of a prior felony conviction.  United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Craig L. Tremaroli, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement.

In his previous plea of guilty, Cook admitted that in March of 2023 he sent sexually explicit text messages to a 14-year-old child in an attempt to entice and coerce her into engaging in sexual conduct with him.  The child did not respond to Cook’s messages.  Instead, her family reported Cook to police, after which the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assumed the child’s identity.  Thereafter, for nearly a month Cook engaged in sexually explicit messaging with someone whom he thought was the child, explaining what type of sexual conduct they could engage in with one another, and asking her to send sexually explicit images to him.  Cook was arrested on April 8, 2023, after arriving at a location where he had arranged to meet her. 

Additional investigation led to the discovery of a loaded Hi Point, .380 caliber pistol hidden inside a hat in a dresser drawer in Cook’s bedroom.  Cook was prohibited from possessing the firearm as a result of a 2022 Chemung County Court conviction for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.

In addition to serving 151 months in prison, Hon. Anne M. Nardacci sentenced Cook to 15 years of supervised release upon his release from imprisonment, and he will be required to register as a sex offender. 

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Mid-State Child Exploitation Task Force and the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Fletcher as a part of Project Safe Childhood. 

Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorney’s offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), and is designed to marshal 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

Updated March 21, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Firearms Offenses