United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett was in Brazil Monday afternoon for a press conference to inform and address local law enforcement and the media of the charges.
"I'm announcing today, and what brings me to Brazil is the charging, by criminal complaint on Friday of last week, of a Brazil resident, a man by the name of Richard Leon Finkbiner," Hogsett said. "Mr. Finkbiner, has been charged with sexual exploitation of children with the specific allegations in a complaint being that Mr. Finkbiner induced and coerced at least two minors to engage in sexually explicit activity that Mr. Finkbiner captured with a webcam and began the process of blackmailing the alleged victims, essentially for more images that would be allured and compromising.
"This conduct is frequently referred to as 'sextortion.'"
According to Hogsett, Finkbiner was arrested at his Brazil home, where he owns and operates the business Clay County Internet.
Hogsett said in the past, extortion and blackmail were typically predicated on monetary amounts, but with the prominence of the Internet in today's society it has created a different type of crime.
"In this day of world wide web and the Internet," Hogsett said, "all too frequently victims are no longer exclusively adults. In this case, they are children, certainly adolescents and teenagers, and they have been identified by individuals like it is alleged. Mr. Finkbiner was one where images of sexual explicit activity are captured, and then the victims are contacted and in essence, extorted or blackmailed or 'sextorted' into providing these predators with more images.'"
Hogsett said at this time two alleged victims have been identified as 14-year-old boys who reside in Michigan and Maryland, but there could be many more.
"As has been indicated previously, the criminal complaint filed in this matter, identifies two alleged victims, but the investigation that was conducted on Friday morning last week when Mr. Finkbiner was arrested, identified and confirmed that this is a very early stage of this investigation," Hogsett said. "During the course of the investigation of the federal search warrant, at Mr. Finkbiner's residence, it is alleged that literally thousands of sexually explicit images and videos depicting hundreds of individuals were recovered.
Hogsett explained the investigation would take time because of the amount of images that were recovered.
"As I said, the investigation will be a very comprehensive and thorough one," Hogsett said, "because of the enormous number of images it will take some time for the investigation to reach a critical mass."
Hogsett said law enforcement authorities hope by distributing Finkbiner's mugshot more victims might come forward.
"One of the reasons why the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have found a compelling law enforcement purpose to allow us to distribute copies of Mr. Finkbiner's picture is that we want to know as quickly as possible who may very well have been otherwise victimized by Mr. Finkbiner," Hogsett said. "It is alleged in the complaint that one of the victims actually interacted with Mr. Finkbiner on the webcam, and saw his image and was able to recognize him.
"We are hopeful to the extent that Mr. Finkbiner engaged in this kind of activity with any other individuals, whether they be Clay County residents, whether they be west central Indiana residents, whether they live in the southern district of Indiana, which is my jurisdiction, whether they are anywhere in the country, we are trying to get the word out that if you have any reason to believe that you, or your children may have had some contact with Mr. Finkbiner ... (to call the FBI's Indianapolis Cybersquad Division at 877-542-8979) and we would encourage anyone, parents, adolescents, teenagers ... to contact that investigative hotline and provide additional information that may very well help law enforcement expedite its investigation in this matter."
Hogsett wrapped up the press conference by stating when Finkbiner was arrested and explaining the next step in the judicial process.
"I'd simply finalize my comments by saying Mr. Finkbiner was arrested and taken into custody Friday morning, and has been in custody and remains in custody," Hogsett said. "It is also my understanding that at 2 p.m., this Wednesday, (April 11), Mr. Finkbiner will have a formal appearance and detention hearing in the federal district court in Terre Haute, at which time I can assure you that the United States Government will vigorously argue for his detention pending an adjudication of our complaint on the merits."
Kim Jackson, Clay County deputy prosecutor, and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton, were also on hand to make statements.
"I feel compelled to add that we're very grateful for the help of the federal government," Jackson said. "We have interacted with them in a very meaningful way and the local law enforcement people have been very pleased by their cooperation in this matter, and again it's just a complaint and he's presumed to be innocent at this time."
Heaton praised the ability of the various law enforcement entities associated in this investigation to work together.
"It's nice that we were able to work together (with the other law enforcement entities)," Heaton said, "I think in the times before that we've had press conferences it's normally dealing with the methamphetamine and the drug problem, which just shows we're not focused only on that, there are other issues out there that everyone's focused on too. This is a result of the work that the FBI has done to get this person out of our community."
Hogsett added he wanted to urge parents to keep a close eye on what their children are doing when they are on the Internet.