SCRANTON ‚?? Posing as a girl on Facebook, a former Holy Redeemer High School football coach tricked a 17-year-old Wilkes-Barre boy into emailing nude photos of himself and then used the images to try to extort the teen into transmitting more photos, according to court records.
Joseph J. Ostrowski assumed several different Facebook identities over a three-month period to threaten the teen that he would send the photos to the youth‚??s high school football coach, and the coach at the college he was to attend in the fall if he did not comply with the demands, according to an arrest affidavit.
‚??One of your friends is begging me to see. Should I show? I‚??m sure your coaches and /or school would like to see,‚?Ě Ostrowski wrote in one threat, according to the affidavit.
‚??Just the fact its (sic) nude could ruin whatever you got going for you bro,‚?Ě he wrote in another.
The allegations are similar to charges contained in a federal grand jury indictment filed Thursday against Ostrowski in Michigan. That indictment alleges Ostrowski hacked into a several Facebook accounts, then tricked several people in East Lansing to perform sexually explicit acts that they transmitted via the Internet, which he recorded and sent to send to others.
Ostrowski, 29, of Vulcan Street, Wilkes-Barre, has been jailed since May, when federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania filed charges of attempted production of child pornography and interstate communication of a threat.
The details of the Pennsylvania case are contained in an affidavit that was filed in support of a criminal complaint. The affidavit, which had been sealed, was made public Friday.
The affidavit indicates the Pennsylvania case stems from an investigation in Michigan that began after a Michigan State University athlete contacted authorities to say he had been tricked into performing a sex act, which he transmitted via the Internet, by a person who had posed as one of the man‚??s friends on Facebook.
That man, identified as ‚??Victim #1,‚?Ě said he agreed to masturbate in front of a webcam, thinking that it was part of a hazing/initiation ritual. He learned he had been tricked after he saw the friend whom he believed had made the request, and the friend told him his Facebook account had been hacked.
Based on that case, authorities subpoenaed records from Verizon Internet Services that allowed them to identity the owner of the internet address that was utilized by the Facebook account.
That led them to secure a search warrant for Ostrowski‚??s computer. A forensic examination revealed other Facebook conversations Ostrowski allegedly had.
According to the affidavit in the Pennsylvania case:
Ostrowski, posing as ‚??Ashley Relhces,‚?Ě contacted the Wilkes-Barre teen on Dec. 31, 2011. Over the course of a 4 ¬Ĺ hour conversation, he convinced the teen to send numerous photos, including some that depicted his genitals. The affidavit does not identify the teen, his school or the football team on which he played.
On Jan. 1, 2012, Ostrowski, again pretending to be Ashley, contacted the boy via Facebook and told him Ashley‚??s step-sister saw the pictures the teen had sent. He offered to ‚??keep this between us,‚?Ě but threatened that ‚??if you ignore me, I‚??ll send them to your school and u can explain to them.‚?Ě
When the teen advised Ostrowski he was 17, Ostrowski replied that his age didn‚??t matter. ‚??You still sent.‚?Ě He told then told the teen if he sent him one more nude photo, it ‚??would all go away.‚?Ě
On March 16, the teen was again contacted through Facebook by Ostrowski, who was now posing as ‚??Mir Simms.‚?Ě Ostrowski told the teen that a nude picture of the teen somehow ‚??got sent to my little sister.‚?Ě
‚??I CAN keep this between us if you are upfront about it. Is that something you want people seeing?‚?Ě Ostrowski said in a message.
Four days later, Ostrowski, still posing as Simms, contacted the teen and one of his friends through a chat session on Facebook. During the conversation, Ostrowski offered to delete the nude photo if the teen and his friend posed for a picture. That affidavit does not detail what Ostrowski wanted the teens to do.
‚??I‚??m going to give u both something to take,‚?Ě Ostrowski said in the message. ‚??If its (sic) like I say then like I said everything gets deleted. Doing this will make me feel like u know how I feel having my sister see what she did.‚?Ě
The teen responded that he was sorry the sister saw the picture, but it wasn‚??t his fault. ‚??I feel like having more stuff out there won‚??t help the situation,‚?Ě the teen said.
Ostrowski continued to press the teen and his friend, both of whom asked for time to ‚??think about‚?Ě the request.
‚??Make a decision now, please,‚?Ě Ostrowski replied. ‚??You can do this and it‚??s over or it will probably get much worse. You do what I ask and everything is deleted.‚?Ě
The affidavit says the teen was interviewed by police on March 27 and, after being provided copies of the Facebook chat logs, confirmed he had sent nude photos to a person he knew as ‚??Ashley.‚?Ě
On April 5, the teen‚??s friend was contacted on Facebook by Ostrowski, who claimed to be Karlos Jermell Williams. Ostrowski told the friend to tell the teen he had one ‚??last chance.‚?Ě If he didn‚??t comply, the nude picture would be sent to his college coach ‚??if need be.‚?Ě
Ostrowski remains incarcerated as he continues to await trial in the Pennsylvania case. No date has been set for his arraignment on the charges in the Michigan case.