INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A western Indiana man is accused of coercing 100 or more teenage boys into recording and sending him sexually explicit images in what federal prosecutors said Monday could be the largest U.S. case of online sexual extortion of children.
Federal officials released a booking photo of 39-year-old Richard Leon Finkbiner, hoping it might generate leads that could help them to identify teens shown in hundreds of sexually explicit videos found on his computer. Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis say Finkbiner estimated to FBI agents that he had coerced at least 100 young people into such videos.
Finkbiner was arrested Friday at his home in the Clay County city of Brazil on charges that he extorted two 14-year-old boys in Maryland and Michigan by threatening to post sexually explicit videos of them online. Court records did not list an attorney for Finkbiner. A court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in Terre Haute. Finkbiner faces a preliminary charge of sexual exploitation of children.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/HtZEd1 ) that federal investigators are trying to figure out how broad the case is and that victims or their families should contact the FBI if they recognize Finkbiner from the mug shot.
"We are fearful it will be vast, but we don't know that," he said Sunday. "This is a case, frankly, in its infancy."
The U.S. attorney's office said in a statement that, "the presence of hundreds of victims would put this investigation and prosecution among the larger — if not largest — sextortion prosecutions ever undertaken in the United States."
Sextortion is a growing crime in which Internet predators catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos.
A Maryland man who pleaded guilty to charges he extorted an Indiana teen and girls across the country into sexual favors online was sentenced in January to 33 years in federal prison.
Almost all of the youths pictured in seized videos are boys, and most appear to be 14 to 16 years old, said Brant Cook, the federal prosecutor handling the case.
Federal agents found Finkbiner by tracking online communications with the two 14-year-old boys, the complaint filed Friday in federal court said. The boys told police an unknown man had threatened to post on gay porn websites sexually explicit videos of them that he had recorded on chat sites if they did not comply with his demands.
Investigators tracked the communications to Clay County Internet in Brazil, which is owned by Finkbiner, the complaint said.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com