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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 16, 2022

Defendant Charged With Attempted Enticement Of Nine-Year-Old Boy

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced charges against EFREM ZELONY-MINDELL for attempted enticement of one minor boy in Manhattan, New York, and possession and distribution of child pornography.  ZELONY-MINDELL was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court today before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Zelony-Mindell allegedly attempted to engage in sexual activity with a nine-year-old boy.  The protection of children from predation remains of critical importance to this Office, and we will continue to use our resources and work with our law enforcement partners to bring offenders to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, Mr. Zelony-Mindell’s actions are nearly unfathomable.  Through a series of conversations with undercover FBI agents conducted on encrypted messaging platforms, he stated his desire to have sex with minor children, and he ultimately met with one of the agents who he believed would provide him an opportunity to do so.  Today’s action should serve as a reminder to anyone who seeks to prey on children - the FBI Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue you and hold you accountable.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint charging ZELONY-MINDELL:[1]

On or about April 29, 2022, an individual identified to be ZELONY-MINDELL initiated a series of conversations with an undercover FBI Special Agent (“UC-1”) on an encrypted messaging service.  In these conversations, ZELONY-MINDELL repeatedly expressed, in graphic and unambiguous terms, his desire to engage in sexual activity with minor children and sent UC-1 numerous images and videos containing child pornography. 

On or about May 9, 2022, UC-1 sent ZELONY-MINDELL, over the encrypted messaging service, the username of a second undercover FBI Special Agent (“UC-2”), posing as the father of a nine-year-old boy.  ZELONY-MINDELL contacted UC-2 over the encrypted messaging service the same day and made clear that he was interested in having sex with the nine-year-old child.  Subsequently, ZELONY-MINDELL and UC-2 had numerous communications, including over the encrypted messaging service, by text message, and over the phone.  During these conversations, ZELONY-MINDELL made clear that he wanted to engage in sexual activity, including specifically anal sex, with UC-2’s purported child.  When told by UC-2 that the child would be “knocked out a little bit” on sleep medication during the planned sexual activity, ZELONY-MINDELL agreed to have sex with the drugged child.       

UC-2 and ZELONY-MINDELL arranged to meet at on a street corner in lower Manhattan on the morning of December 16, 2022, with the understanding that they would return to UC-2’s apartment afterward and ZELONY-MINDELL would then engage in sexual activity with the child.  On the morning in question, ZELONY-MINDELL met a third FBI Special Agent (“UC-3”) at the agreed-upon location, at which time law enforcement arrested ZELONY-MINDELL. 

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ZELONY-MINDELL, 35, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is charged with one count of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of distribution of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The minimum and maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, and, in particular, the members of the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force. 

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Daniels is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Contact: 
Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
22-401
Updated December 16, 2022