Pico Rivera man sentenced for online extortion of 21 girls nationwide

A judge sentenced a Pico Rivera man to nearly 40 years in state prison for extorting 21 underage girls in eight states into sending him nude pictures online, authorities said.
Cesar Mauricio Estrada-Davila, also known as Cesar Estrada, 20, pleaded “no contest” on Wednesday to 38 felony charges, including 21 counts of distributing or showing child pornography to a minor, 16 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of committing a lewd act on a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
At his sentencing on Friday in the Antelope Valley branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Estrada received a prison term of 39 years and 8 months. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
“According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, Estrada reached out to young girls and befriended them on social media websites between January and April, 2015,” Santiago said. “The defendant told the victims he was a modeling agent who could make them famous online.
“Estrada then asked the victims to send him pictures of themselves in their underwear,” according to Santiago. “Once the defendant received the images, he would tell the girls he was going to send the photos to their friends and family if they did not send nude photos.”
Prosecutors filed charges in connection with 21 victims between the ages of 12 and 17 in the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, Michigan, Washington, Colorado and Florida.
The investigation began after a 14-year-old Antelope Valley girl who reported the online extortion to her father, who in turn contacted police, sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Meyer said shortly after Estrada’a arrest.
Detectives searched Estrada’s home in the 8300 block of Rosemead Boulevard in Pico Rivera, where they found more than 26,000 pages of online and text conversations between Estrada and his victims, Meyer added. All of the victims were Latina girls, and many told investigators they had been living in fear of Estrada.
Estrada was initially charged with more than 150 crimes and could have received multiple life sentences if convicted at trial, prosecutors said.
The case was investigated by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.

PHOTO of Cesar Mauricio Estrada-Davila courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Former teacher’s assistant from West L.A. sentenced for trading in ‘sadistic’ child pornography images

LOS ANGELES >> A judge sentenced a West Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a teacher’s assistant to eight years in federal prison for distributing “sadistic” child pornography images online, authorities said.
Steven Petlak, 53, pleaded guilty to a single count of distribution of child pornography in July in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“In court filings, Petlak admitted that he made an effort to seek out the worst types of child pornography he could find — in Petlak’s words, “the really dark stuff,” Mrozek said in a written statement.
Images traded via a peer-to-peer file-sharing system included pornographic pictures of children under 15 years old, “including child images deemed to be ‘sadistic’ under the federal sentencing rules,” Mrozek said.
While out of custody and awaiting trial, “Petlak was caught by a law enforcement officer looking at what appeared to be graphic images of a juvenile female,” Mrozek added.
Officials said Petlak had previously worked as a teachers’ assistant, however DOJ officials did not disclose what school or schools he has worked for.
Petlak received his sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.
“Predators who seek out child pornography online threaten the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in our real-world community. This defendant’s conduct exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society, and the sentence today reflects the harm caused by defendants who trade in these heinous materials, ” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen Decker said.
Upon his release from federal prison, Petlak will be required to register as a sex offender and stay away from places where children are present.

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Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography

SIERRA MADRE >> Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.
After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.
Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.
He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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San Marino man accused of possession of child pornography

SAN MARINO — A San Marino man already convicted of using a hidden camera to take photos up the skirts of unsuspecting women was behind bars again Wednesday, accused of possessing images of child pornography.
Police arrested Justin Kerong Chen, 18, Tuesday while serving a search warrant at his home, San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
He remained jailed Wednesday at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail in lieu of $20,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Alhambra Superior Court, according to county booking records.
San Marino police began investigating Chen in connection with child pornography after information was developed while investigating him for different crimes earlier this year, San Marino police Detective Susana Franco said.
He was arrested in March after police found him in possession of burglary tools, as well as a “covert camera” which he had been using to take surreptitious photographs up women’s skirts in public, the detective said.
“Follow-up investigation led detectives to Chen’s residence, where, with the assistance of the South Pasadena Police Department, a search warrant was executed without incident,” San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
Chen was convicted of possession of burglary tools and electronic peeping with a camera and sentenced to three years of summary probation in June, Franco said.
As detectives investigated Chen and built a case against him for the electronic peeping case, they discovered that he had images of child pornography on his computer, the detective said.
They obtained a search warrant from a judge and arrived at Chen’s home shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday in search of additional images, Franco said.
“Several” images were recovered from Chen’s computer and other electronic media involving “younger” children, she added. Investigators had no information to indicate Chen was involved in the creation of any of the images.
Chen was booked on suspicion of possession of child pornography.
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