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Brazil resident charged with 'sextortion' of children

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Brazil man, Richard Leon Finkbiner, 39, has been charged with what authorities have called "sextortion."

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.

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 'sextortion' charges against Richard Leon Finkbiner, Brazil.
"And that, we believe, may very well indicate the existence of many other victims, in fact the defendant pursuant to the criminal complaint filed in federal district court was alleged to have stated in a preliminary interview that he may have victimized at least a hundred individuals using these 'sextortion' techniques."

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.

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Why do people like this exist? I just do not understand how someone can be so off in the head, that they could take advantage of kids like this.

-- Posted by Oldtown on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 8:33 AM

Oldtown - if there were a "LIKE" button here I would click it. I don't understand either.

-- Posted by Bzlobserver on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 8:47 AM

Good lord.... just read this in the Tampa Bay Times. Of course so did everyone else I work with. "Hey didn't you work in Brazil , IN?" I say string him up!

-- Posted by WhyInBrazil on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 8:49 AM

People are too trusting - not only in other people but to think their kids won't get into trouble on the internet. For example: you are supposed to be 13 to have a Facebook account but I know many younger kids have them - WHY? Is it Really necessary?

-- Posted by indianamama on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 12:38 PM

What is it with this world today> People wanting to exploit our children. People that do this kind of thing are really sick

-- Posted by brattss on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 5:24 PM

Well he is making news everywhere! WLS-TV in Chicago did 2 reports on him. It was also on the news in Howell, Michigan per a friend that lives there, and Tampa now.

Oh by the way, if anyone has internet service with Clay County Internet (http://Claynet.com)your money helped finance his actions as he is the owner!

In the WSL-TV report it states his internet company also houses the Brazil City website http://CityofBrazil.com. This is not the city's site, it is one Finkbinder built on his own. The official city site is http://www.brazil.in.gov .

Brazil has enough problems without taking on more.

-- Posted by driverdude on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 7:33 PM

Hurray! Even here in Chicago I get to hear of the depravity in Brazil courtesy of WLS channel 7 news. Can't wait to return to the cesspool. Until then I've stopped telling all my friends where it is I live...

-- Posted by MFurryasse on Tue, Apr 10, 2012, at 7:38 PM


-- Posted by pilot5usa on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 11:17 AM

I do not condone anything that Rick did in the "sextortion" incident or any other illegal internet abuse or actions.

Clay County Internet/Claynet is owned by him and his father...they did several business websites in our area and other places..I really feel all of them were legit and not abused in any way. I have had dial-up service with them for over ten years and found them to be honest, reputable and very kind people. Please remember his family is devastated and none of us can blame them nor the company for Rick's actions. They are hard working people like all of us and wanting to offer a service in our community like many others, that is much needed. Rick is responsible for his actions and now his parents and the company must walk in shame and heartache. The law is the law and it's will shall be done..but my heart aches for his family.

-- Posted by dlm5148 on Fri, Apr 13, 2012, at 12:31 AM

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