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Press Release

Newburgh Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Coercion And Enticement Of A Minor, Aggravated Sexual Assault, And Traveling With Intent To Engage In Sexual Activity With A Minor

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

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that VERNON E. COPELAND III was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas for his years-long aggravated sexual assault, enticement, and transportation of a minor.  COPELAND was convicted of coercion and enticement of a minor, aggravated sexual abuse, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity following a week-long jury trial in July 2023.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “For years, Vernon E. Copeland III preyed on some of the most defenseless members of our community.  Four of his victims, one of whom was just nine years old when Copeland began abusing her, faced him at trial and courageously told their harrowing stories.  This lengthy prison sentence finally holds Copeland accountable for his horrific crimes and the devastating harm and trauma he caused to minor victims and their families.”

According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial:

In a motel on Thanksgiving Day in 2004, COPELAND raped two minors, one of whom was 17 at the time and another of whom was 15 at the time.  In 2010, COPELAND raped another minor who was 16 at the time in an apartment in Newburgh, New York.  From 2016 to 2020, COPELAND repeatedly raped and sexually abused a girl when she was between the ages of 9 and 13 years old.  In 2020, COPELAND fled the State of New York when he suspected that law enforcement might be closing in on him.  In 2021, he was arrested in Florida and brought back to the Southern District of New York to be prosecuted.

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In addition to the prison term, COPELAND, 39, of Newburgh, New York, was sentenced to lifetime supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, the Town of Newburgh Police Department, and the Tampa Police Department in Tampa, Florida, in connection with this investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danielle Sassoon and Timothy Ly, with assistance from former U.S. Attorney Lindsey Keenan, are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated June 25, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 24-229