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Press Release

Erie Man Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison in Sextortion Case

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

ERIE, Pa. -A former resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 96 months in jail and 6 years supervised release on his conviction of violating federal laws relating to the sexual exploitation of children, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Mark Joseph Bretz, 29.

According to information presented to the court, Bretz received computer images depicting prepubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Bretz also used social media sites to coerce at least three victims into providing him sexually explicit images. Each victim was subjected to threats until they relented and provided Bretz the explicit material he demanded. Bretz recorded these interactions and kept them on his computer so he could relive the coercion whenever he wanted. Bretz also videotaped a minor as she walked to and from school.

This case was 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 (CEOS), 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

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Brady commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Erie County Detectives Bureau and the Aurora, Colorado Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Bretz.

Updated October 8, 2019

Project Safe Childhood