Indiana man to plead guilty to 'sextortion'

Staff reports Updated: January 31, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: January 31, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana man has agreed to plead guilty to charges alleging that he tricked about a dozen teenagers from several states into stripping or performing sexual acts for him via webcam and then used recordings of those sessions to coerce them into making even more explicit videos.

Richard Finkbiner, who lives in the western Indiana community of Brazil, signed an agreement filed in federal court in Terre Haute on Wednesday in which he will plead guilty to child exploitation, extortion and possession of child pornography in exchange for a recommended sentence of 30 to 50 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett previously said prosecutors intended to seek an effective life sentence if a jury convicted Finkbiner.

Prosecutors say Finkbiner met his victims, most of whom were male, in online chat rooms. The teens thought they were looking at live images of people — including a couple, in at least one instance — who were acting sexually and encouraging the teens to do the same, but the images were actually recordings Finkbiner was showing them. He would later contact the teens again and threaten to upload the images to porn websites unless they made more videos for his private use, prosecutors say.

"So u wanna play or b a famous gay porn star?" Finkbiner allegedly asked a Michigan boy.

The alleged victims were all between the ages of 12 and 16. Prosecutors say Finkbiner victimized children in Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Illinois and Colorado.

During questioning by FBI agents, Finkbiner estimated that he had coerced at least 100 young people into making explicit videos, according to court documents. Officials have not said whether they believe Finkbiner shared the images with anyone else.

Prosecutors say the case is an example of "sextortion," a crime that authorities are seeing with greater frequency in which Internet predators catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos. Hogsett has said the case could be the largest of its kind in the United States.

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Follow Charles Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlesDWilson

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