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'Sextortion': Indiana man faces new federal charges in Michigan

April 17, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Richard Leon Finkbiner, of Brazil, Ind., now faces "sextortion"-related charges in Indiana and Michigan. Prosecutors say he forced boys into sexual activity that he recorded online.
Richard Leon Finkbiner, of Brazil, Ind., now faces "sextortion"-related… (U.S. attorney's office )

An Indiana man, already facing charges that he forced two boys into making sexually graphic Web videos, has been hit with a new round of federal charges stemming from the same alleged “sextortion” scheme.

In a criminal complaint filed Friday in the Eastern District of Michigan, Richard Leon Finkbiner, 39, of Brazil, Ind., was charged with coercing a minor to produce pornography that was then transported in interstate commerce, according to U.S. Atty. Barbara L. McQuade. If convicted, Finkbiner faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and maximum of life.

The charges filed in Michigan are the latest against Finkbiner. He's currently in federal custody in Indiana, where he faces two counts of similar charges.

The new charges involve a Michigan boy whose case was mentioned in the criminal complaint in Indiana, but was not included in the formal charges, Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, said in an email.

“Sextortion” has become a commonly used word to describe the extortion of a victim by threatening to reveal something embarrassing unless the victim engages in the production of sexually explicit materials. In both jurisdictions, Finkbiner is accused of allegedly blackmailing his victims to engage in sexually explicit conduct that he then captured with a webcam.

“These heinous acts targeting children illustrate the dangers that can exist over the Internet,” Andrew G. Arena, FBI special agent in charge, said in a prepared statement released last week in Detroit.  “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement partners committed to preventing these crimes and arresting those predators.”

According to the affidavit filed in Detroit, Finkbiner is alleged to have coerced a 14-year-old boy who made contact with him on a video chat website. Finkbiner threatened to post sexual images of the boy on gay porn sites unless the boy engaged in explicit acts that were recorded by webcam. Finkbiner called the boy his “cam slave,” according to the FBI affidavit filed in Detroit.

The Michigan boy eventually 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 have said they traced Finkbiner through his computer address.

During questioning by FBI agents, Finkbiner estimated that he had coerced at least 100 young people into making explicit videos, according to affidavits filed in both cases.


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