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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Attempted to Coerce a Minor to Have Sex

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

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Joseph Hamilton, age 38, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from March 11, 2019 until on or about April 18, 2019, the defendant used a facility or means of interstate commerce, specifically the Internet and over a cellular phone network, to communicate with an undercover agent, believing the agent to be a minor, to knowingly attempt to persuade, induce, entice and coerce the purported minor to engage in sexual activity with him. In his messages with the undercover agent, the defendant detailed the sexual activity that he wanted to engage in with the purported minor. The defendant told the purported minor to delete their messages so that the purported minor’s mother would not find them. On April 18, 2019, the defendant made plans to meet with the undercover agent posing as a minor. The plan was for the defendant to pick the minor up at an agreed upon location in his vehicle and then they would go to the defendant’s residence to engage in sexual activity. Law enforcement arrested the defendant when he arrived to meet the purported minor.

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for April 7, 2020 at 2:15 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued the defendant’s detention.

Assistant United States Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Hamilton.

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, 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 December 16, 2019

Project Safe Childhood