(STL.News) – A Canadian man pleaded guilty yesterday to orchestrating an online sextortion scheme and producing images of child sexual abuse.
“Marco Viscomi’s criminal conduct is nothing short of horrendous,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Producing images of child sexual abuse is heinous and causes incalculable and unknowable harm to victims. The actions that Viscomi engaged in are one of the most offensive and serious crimes in the entire criminal code. We will continue to shine a light on the darkest areas of the web and protect those that are unable to protect themselves.”
“Let this case serve as notice to online predators. Homeland Security Investigations began this case with the Virginia Beach Police Department more than eight years ago and didn’t relent until justice was served,” said Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C. “Individuals who prey on children cannot hide behind their electronic devices and screen names. We will find and arrest you and ensure you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to court documents, Viscomi, 35, of Ontario, was first identified by the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in 2012. In January 2012, a father of two girls, then ages 13 and 17 years old, had reported to the VBPD that his daughters had been extorted by someone they met online. The person online threatened the girls and forced them to engage in sexually explicit conduct and produce images of child sexual abuse. The VBPD and HSI traced the culprit to Ontario and identified Viscomi as the person responsible. Viscomi was a 26-year-old medical student at that time.
Additional investigation uncovered Viscomi had engaged in similar sextortion conduct against dozens of other minor victims around the United States. In July 2012, Viscomi was charged in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia and arrested in Canada. He fought extradition to the United States until December 2019, when the Canadian courts finally ordered him extradited to Norfolk to face the charges.
Viscomi pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography. Viscomi faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years per count and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison per count when sentenced on Jan. 14, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; and Anthony F. Zucaro, Jr., Interim Chief of Virginia Beach Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Attorney Elizabeth M. Yusi and E. Rebecca Gantt are prosecuting the case.