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Ex-coach is facing 25 years in prison

February 19. 2013 10:44PM
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SCRANTON – A former Holy Redeemer football coach will serve 25 years in prison under a plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors relating to charges he enticed numerous people, including minors, from at least 15 states to engage in sexually explicit behavior over the Internet.

Joseph Ostrowski, 28, of Wilkes-Barre, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of production and attempted production of child pornography, extortion and cyber stalking, according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in federal court.

Ostrowski was arrested in May after authorities said he posed as a female on the social networking site Facebook to trick a male Wilkes-Barre teenager into emailing nude photos of himself, according to an arrest affidavit. He then used the images to try to extort the teen into sending more photos.

The new complaint filed Tuesday indicates Ostrowski had engaged in similar conduct from 2006 through May 2012 involving victims from New York, North Carolina, California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Alabama and Maryland.

The latest complaint does not detail Ostrowski's crimes.

Court papers filed in connection with the Wilkes-Barre case and a case in Michigan reveal Ostrowski used the Internet to convince victims to transmit nude photos or videos of themselves performing sexually explicit acts. Ostrowski would then threaten to send the photos or videos to others.

Ostrowski's victims included adults and minors, including students who participated in sporting activities, according to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith.

In a news release, Smith said his office is providing information regarding the Ostrowski case to schools, colleges and universities so that they can create programs to educate students about sextortion tactics.

Sextortion, whether the victims are allegedly adults or minors, is an ugly and vicious crime, Smith said. Schools, as well as parents and potential victims, need to be alert and responsive to signs of this insidious abuse of social media.

The maximum penalty for all of Ostrowski's offenses combined is 37 years in prison. Prosecutors and the defense have agreed to seek a sentence of 25 years, with the understanding the plea can be withdrawn by either side if a federal judge does not agree to the terms.

Ostrowski, who has remained jailed since his arrest, also has agreed to a lifetime term of supervised release upon his release from prison and to pay any restitution the U.S. Probation Department determines is due his victims.

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