7 men sentenced in international child exploitation conspiracy

According to court documents, between July 2014 and April 2015, these defendants and other co-conspirators outside the United States utilized a website that was specifically designed to help the group target and sexually exploit minor females. The website was password-protected, and only vetted individuals could become members.

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Brandon Gressette, 32, is one of the men named in the indictment.

The members of the website worked together to identify social media profiles of girls, including girls as young as 10, and strategized regarding how to convince the girls to engage in sexually explicit activity via live web camera. Typically, while pretending to be minor boys and girls, the defendants streamed pre-recorded videos of other underage girls engaging in similar conduct to their target-victims in an effort to trick the girls into believing they were watching a live video of someone their own age.

Using peer-pressure, the members convinced the victims to engage in sexually explicit activity. The victims were unaware that they were actually communicating with adult men who were recording their sexually explicit activity. After successfully recording a victim’s sexually explicit activity, the defendants would share the videos with each other by uploading the files to a file-storage site and placing a link to download the file on a section of their members-only website.

To date, 91 victims from 28 states and Canada have been positively identified.

Six of the co-conspirators each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and one count of conspiracy to receive and distribute child pornography. Defendant Gressette pleaded guilty to the same count of conspiracy to produce child pornography, as well as two additional substantive counts of production of child pornography with two different victims, one of whom was under the age of 12.

Additionally, another co-conspirator, Jonathan Soto, 27, of Branchburg, New Jersey, was prosecuted in the District of New Jersey and also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce child pornography. On March 31, 2017, Soto was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

The sentences handed out are as follows:

  • Brandon Gressette, aka “Samisbae,” 33, a restaurant cook of Summerville, South Carolina, was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 29, 2017.
  • James Thomas Gersky, aka “Hesh,” 35, a temporary agency employee of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2017.
  • Steven Fox, aka. “Steam,” 40, an unemployed resident of Elkridge, Maryland, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2017.
  • Sean Ellis, aka. “Jeffery,” 44, a data protection specialist of Kennesaw, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2017.
  • Michael Augustin, aka. “Rand,” 45, a computer engineer of Fort Collins, Colorado, was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 12, 2017.
  • Dejan Becovic, aka “DryAids,” 24, a utilities locator of West Vallen City, Utah, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 20, 2017. Becovic also previously pleaded guilty in the District of Utah to receipt of child pornography, and on Oct. 18, 2017 was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for the Utah conviction.
  • Jonathan Cripe, aka “Terp,” 29, a security system installer of Imperial, Missouri, was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 8, 2017.

While the investigation had been going on for a while, it is interesting to know that it was not until after Trump was elected that the indictment was handed down and it wasn’t until Trump was President that they all plead guilty. Remember, these men were involved in it, and there is most likely more offenders out there. I have no doubt in my mind Trump will continue to hunt them down and arrest them.


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Categories: Trump

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