'Sextortion' suspect faces Mich. child porn charge

Associated Press + More

By CHARLES WILSON, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man charged in Indiana with coercing two teenage boys into making sexually explicit online videos, and who boasted to FBI agents that he had done this more than 100 times, now faces federal charges in Michigan stemming from the same offence.

The U.S. attorney's office in Detroit on Friday filed charges of production of child pornography and enticement against Richard Finkbiner, 39, who could face from 15 years to life in prison if convicted.

Finkbiner of Brazil, Ind., has been in custody in Terre Haute, Ind., since his April 6 arrest. At that point he was charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child in relation to videos of a 14-year-old boy in Michigan and another in Maryland. A federal magistrate judge last week ordered him held without bond.

Finkbiner could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the Indiana charges.

The latest criminal complaint also relates to the boy in Michigan, according to Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit. The complaint alleges that Finkbiner secretly videotaped the teen as he exposed himself in an anonymous chat room in February. He then blackmailed the boy into performing sex acts on webcam by threatening to post the anonymous video on a gay porn website.

Federal public defender Gwendolyn Beitz didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

The blackmailer called the boy his "cam slave," according to an affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Brett Leatherman.

The boy "felt compelled to contact and obey the male or face the consequences of the male posting the video ... on gay pornographic websites," the affidavit says.

The latest charges were filed in Michigan because that's where the boy was when he was videoed, Balaya said.

"Wherever there's a victim, that district has jurisdiction," she said.

There was no record of similar charges being filed in Maryland on that court district's website.

Prosecutors say the case is an example of "sextortion," a crime in which predators catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos.

The affidavit says that after repeated contacts the boy eventually broke down and told his parents who contacted the Oakland County, Mich., Sheriff's Office.

"I'm proud of the young victim (who) had the courage to share his story," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement released by the Detroit U.S. attorney's office. "As a result, a disgusting predator is off the street."

Investigators traced the blackmailer's email address to Finkbiner and searched his computer on April 6, the affidavit says.

During questioning by FBI agents, Finkbiner estimated that he had coerced at least 100 young people into making explicit videos, according to court documents filed in both court districts. Prosecutors in Indianapolis have said investigators found videos depicting hundreds of teens on Finkbiner's computer.

Balaya said the cases in Michigan and Indiana could be combined if Finkbiner pleads guilty, but "if he chooses to fight the charges here in Michigan, he'll have to come here."

"We'll have to see how this case develops and where it all gets handled. Indiana is obviously taking the lead on this, but we're all working together," she said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.