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June 27, 2013

Indiana 'sextortionist' gets 40-year sentence

INDIANAPOLIS — A self-confessed “sextortionist” from Indiana was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Wednesday for coercing more than a dozen teenagers into performing sex acts online.

Richard Finkbiner admitted that he tricked the young people into stripping or performing sexual acts while on a webcam, recorded those sessions and then threatened to post the videos online unless the teens made more explicit videos for his personal use. Prosecutors allege that the 40-year-old targeted hundreds of minors across the country, some as young as 12 years old.

“For nearly two years, this man sat in front of his home computer and orchestrated a scheme that terrorized hundreds of young people across this country,” U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said in a prepared statement.

Finkbiner, who lives in Brazil, Ind., agreed in January to plead guilty to child exploitation, extortion and possession of child pornography in exchange for a recommended sentence of 30 to 50 years in prison. He also was ordered to pay $70,000.

In sentencing Finkbiner, U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence noted that scores of his underage victims had not been identified. The alleged victims ranged in age from 12 to 17 and lived in at least 11 states — Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota and Alaska.

Prosecutors said a review of Finkbiner’s email and chat logs showed at least 153 victims, including 20 identified by investigators. Investigators who analyzed electronic media seized from him revealed more than 22,000 video files captured from webcam feeds, about half of which depict sexual conduct, according to court documents.

“The sheer number of individuals Finkbiner exploited and extorted justifies a sentence Finkbiner is almost certain not to outlive,” prosecutors argued in court documents.

Finkbiner’s attorney, chief federal public defender Monica Foster, said Finkbiner had been a law-abiding citizen for 40 years, until he “fell off the edge” due to untreated mental illness.

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