NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A fourth man was charged federally Thursday in a case involving the sexual exploitation of a minor following an investigation by special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and detectives of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office (MCDAO).
Mark Wilczopolski, aka Wilco, 22, of Birdsboro, is one of four men charged federally and locally. Two additional men are charged by MCDAO. Wilczopolski is charged federally with using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual conduct, receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography. Wilczopolski will also be prosecuted on local charges by MCDAO.
HSI Philadelphia Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Walker participated in a press conference Friday with Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman and U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger to announce enforcement efforts in combating child exploitation with the arrest and prosecution against Wilczopolski as part of this latest effort.
"HSI hereby puts child predators on notice: there is no refuge for child sexual predators who believe they can pursue their perverse behavior with impunity online; they cannot escape justice and there will be serious consequences for their actions," said Walker. "HSI will continue to diligently work with our partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Montgomery District Attorney's Office and other local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies to combat the sexual exploitation of children."
Charged in related federal indictments are: Christopher Steele, aka Mike Dozor, 33, of Newark, Del., who was indicted March 6 for use of the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual conduct, interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and receipt of child pornography; Matthew Krapf, 43, of Collegeville, Pa., who was indicted Jan. 23 on 10 counts each of using or inducing a child to pose for child pornography, use of the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual contact, three counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography; and Jason Scott Becktold, aka Scotty, 42, of Oklahoma City, Okla., who was indicted Jan. 23 on four counts each of using or inducing a child to pose for child pornography and use of the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual conduct. The four men, and two others, were initially charged by the Montgomery County District Attorney. All three cases listed were adopted for federal prosecution.
According to the indictments, each of the defendants had contact, via the Internet, with Minor #1 and enticed Minor #1 to engage in sexual conduct and transmit it over the Internet. Krapf also traveled to meet Minor #1 for the purpose of having sexual intercourse, and is charged with doing the same with four other minor boys. In one instance, defendant Krapf traveled to meet Minor #1 and brought Minor #2 with him for the purpose of all three having sexual intercourse, which defendant Krapf videotaped and photographed, and then transmitted to others over the Internet.
According to Becktold's indictment, Becktold induced Minor #1 to engage in sexual activity with himself and with other minors, record video of the activity and transmit the video to him via the Internet. Becktold also induced Minor #1 to place a concealed recording device in a locker room to record other minor boys in various states of dress and undress.
Defendant Steele, according to his indictment, traveled from Delaware to Pennsylvania for the purpose of engaging in sex with Minor #1 and enticed Minor #1 to engage in sexual activity over the Internet.
"The Internet continues to provide child predators with access to children who cannot appreciate the tremendous physical and mental dangers they face at the hands of criminals who prey on children for sex," said Memeger. "In order to combat this far too common threat, federal, state and local law enforcement partners must work together to bring those who victimize our children to justice."
"The greatest responsibility of law enforcement is to protect our most vulnerable citizens," said Ferman. "Keeping children safe is our number one priority. This case highlights the dangers our children face when communicating with strangers online. An unfortunate reality of our world is there are adults willing to manipulate and exploit vulnerable youth for their own base motives. Working together, the Limerick Township Police Department, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office and Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania have taken six alleged child predators off the street. I commend and thank our law enforcement partners for the strong collaboration and cooperation that allowed us to stop these acts of abuse against vulnerable kids."
All four defendants are in federal custody. Matthew Krapf is scheduled for trial May 19. If convicted of all federal charges, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life.
Christopher Steele is scheduled for trial June 2. If convicted of all federal charges, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life.
Jason Scott Becktold is scheduled for trial Sept. 15. If convicted of all federal charges, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life.
Mark Wilczopolski faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life.
The cases were investigated by HSI Philadelphia, the Limerick Township Police and Montgomery County Detectives.
The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella.
The investigations were conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.