NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 19, 2023
SAN DIEGO – Daniel Zachary Dasko of Carlsbad, a former teacher’s aide and youth hockey coach, was sentenced in federal court today to 188 months in prison for sending sexually explicit images of children to others online.
Dasko, who is out on bond, was ordered to report to prison on October 3. Dasko pleaded guilty on April 11, 2023, to one count of Distribution of Images of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct.
Dasko’s distribution of images and videos of children being sexually abused was discovered during the course of another investigation into similar activity. In July 2021, the Philadelphia Division of the FBI received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding a man uploading child pornography. The subject was identified as a teacher in the Philadelphia area.
FBI Philadelphia executed a search warrant on the Philadelphia man’s residence. A review of his iPhone revealed numerous conversations regarding child pornography using a social media application that allowed the user to produce and trade images created by baiting minor victims to send nude photos or videos, or to go live online and be screen-recorded. The Philadelphia subject and other coconspirators would first pose as females on social media sites in order to chat with the victims, and then transfer their communications to a closed social media application that allowed the exchange of these nude photos and videos.
During this investigation, FBI agents determined that Dasko communicated with the Philadelphia man and his other co-conspirators under the name “Mr. Pickles.” From October 3, 2020, to October 3, 2021, Dasko exchanged over 3,671 messages with the Philadelphia man, including numerous images and videos depicting children being sexually abused.
The vast majority of these messages were conversations about sexually exploiting children Dasko and his co-conspirators knew or met online. The Philadelphia man and Dasko discussed at length and in graphic, disturbing detail, their attraction to young boys and their attempts to catfish them. Catfishing – one of the most common internet scams targeting young people – happens when a person poses as someone else in an online relationship.
Dasko even went so far as to forward social media contact information of children that he knew to his co-conspirators, so the children could be catfished online. This scheme achieved results. For example, Dasko distributed a video of a 13-year-old boy masturbating. This victim had been catfished by one of Dasko’s co-conspirators.
“This defendant is a sexual predator who used his position as a teacher and coach to inform his sexual interests and to target kids for online abuse,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden. “His job was to educate and protect children. Instead, he exploited them. We will do everything in our power protect children and hold offenders accountable.”
“Crimes involving sexually exploiting children are especially disgusting and disturbing,” said FBI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “I’m proud of the hard work conducted by our agents and law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice for their abhorrent behavior.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mandy Griffith and Andrew Sherwood.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 22cr1715-LL
Daniel Dasko Age: 32 Carlsbad, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Distribution of Images of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2252(a)(2).
Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation