Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Ex-NORAD employee found guilty of role in online child sexual predator ring | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


AKRON, Ohio — A jury on Friday found a former employee of the North American Aerospace Defense Command guilty of being part of an organized online ring of child predators.

Richard Eby, 61, faces up to 50 years in prison after a jury in federal court in Akron found him guilty of three charges — conspiracy to engage in the sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to receive visual depictions of minors in sexually explicit conduct and conspiracy to access with the intent to view child pornography.

The jury found him not guilty of one count of sexual exploitation of a child.

U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi sent Eby’s sentencing for May 17.

Prosecutors filed charges in Northeast Ohio against Eby and six others because one of the co-defendants, David Pece, lived in Highland Heights.

The group worked together from November 2015 to March 2016 and was among at least five similar networks the FBI’s Detroit office busted in recent years.

The group conspired in an online video chatroom called chateen and worked together to trick girls as young as 9 to undress and perform sex acts on camera.

The members recorded videos, then used them to extort the girls into performing more sex acts on camera whenever they demanded.

Group members had roles. Pece acted as a “hunter” who scoured social media sites looking for vulnerable girls to exploit. Others worked as “loopers,” who played pre-recorded videos of teens to make the girls feel more comfortable. And some took part in security, watching out to ensure law enforcement didn’t stumble across the scheme.

Of the four victims the FBI identified, two are from Michigan, one is from Texas and other from Wisconsin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said during opening statements Monday that FBI agents found Eby visited the chateen site nearly every day during a 10-month span.

Investigators connected him to the group via his chateen screen name that matched his screen name on X, formerly known as Twitter, and on YouTube, where he posted videos about guns.

FBI agents found 6,100 images and 451 videos of potential child pornography on his computer, Sullivan said. Of those, agents identified 243 images of child sexual exploitation material, and one included a photo of a victim of the chateen group.

Eby’s attorney, Edward Bryan, argued that investigators didn’t have any evidence to link Eby to the screen name and that, even if they did, they had no evidence that the person behind the screen name committed any crimes during the time frame given by prosecutors.

“The evidence during that time is missing,” Bryan said during his opening statement. “It’s just not there.”

Eby served in the U.S. Air Force while working at NORAD, according to court filings. He moved from Portland to Colombia. He was arrested in July 2019 while traveling back into the United States.

All six other co-defendants pleaded guilty. Pece faces between 24 and 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced by Lioi on March 1.

Four others face sentences between 10 and 30 years in prison. Another member, Ethan Shives, was already sentenced to nine years in prison.

Adam Ferrise covers federal courts at cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer. You can find his work here.



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