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Ex-fugitive gets 20 years in molestation

Richard Steve Goldberg admitted taking photos of himself and a 5-year-old girl engaged in sexual conduct in Long Beach in 2001.

December 11, 2007|Scott Glover | Times Staff Writer

A convicted child molester who was once among the FBI's most wanted fugitives was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Monday for taking pornographic pictures of himself and a 5-year-old girl from his Long Beach neighborhood.

Richard Steve Goldberg, an unemployed aerospace engineer, lured young girls to his home by allowing them to play with his pets, watch movies and use his computer, authorities said.

As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Goldberg, 62, admitted to taking digital photos of himself and the 5-year-old girl engaged in sexual conduct in 2001.

At his sentencing Monday, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter called Goldberg's crimes "unspeakable acts."

The investigation into Goldberg began May 11, 2001, after an 8-year-old girl returned home from a visit to his house and told her sister that Goldberg had inappropriately touched her and other children and had shown them his penis.

The older girl told their mother, who called police.

Detectives interviewed four children -- all girls between the ages of 5 and 9 -- who were at Goldberg's home that day. The children said Goldberg showed them the movie "The Shining" and served them popcorn and soft drinks.

He also turned on his computer and allowed some of the children to play a game that involved putting clothes on a naked Barbie doll.

The children gave conflicting accounts about what else occurred, authorities said. Two of them said they saw Goldberg engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with the other two girls. But when questioned by Long Beach police, the two girls denied Goldberg had done anything wrong.

Goldberg also denied the allegations.

About a month later, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issued a search warrant for Goldberg's home and computer. Investigators searching the computer found several nude photos of a 5-year-old girl on a bed in a sexually suggestive position. They also found several other pictures of the girl engaged in sexual acts with a man, later identified as Goldberg.

After being charged by both local and federal authorities, Goldberg fled the country.

In 2002, he was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list. A press release put out by the FBI at the time described how Goldberg "gained the trust of parents and then befriended their children" before committing his crimes.

After more than six years as a fugitive, Goldberg was captured in Montreal after an informant saw his photo on the FBI's website. He was arrested by Canadian authorities in May and deported to the United States.

U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien said in a prepared statement that Goldberg's case -- and his sentence -- should serve as a warning to other child predators.

"We will find you, we will prosecute you, and your perverted acts will land you in prison," O'Brien said.

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scott.glover@latimes.com

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