CLEVELAND — Four convictions were announced Friday after an undercover sex tourism operation was made public by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Brian M. Moskowitz, ICE HSI special agent in charge for Ohio and Michigan, revealed details about the cases and convictions on Friday.
"These convictions help keep children safe, both children here and children around the world," said Dettelbach. "The details of these cases show the lengths people will go to commit these unspeakable crimes. We will work cooperatively and vigilantly to protect our most vulnerable."
"Sex tourism is a scourge and must be combated with every available resource," said Moskowitz. "These cases show international borders are no longer a hindrance for predators. HSI will continue to use our unique authorities to confront this threat wherever it exists."
The felony convictions are the result of an investigation that began in September 2009. ICE HSI created an undercover website offering secure travel from Cleveland to Canada for people who sought to engage in sexual conduct with minors. Special agents, acting as undercover facilitators of sex with minors, then responded to email requests to arrange such encounters.
Details of the four cases:
United States v. Peter Beichl: Beichl, 49, a doctor from Stuttgart, Germany, was arrested in Cleveland by HSI agents in March after he flew from Germany to Cleveland for the purpose of having sex with an 11-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to sex trafficking crimes on Aug. 15. Arresting agents found Beichl with lingerie, sex toys, bondage ropes, straps, a mask, lubricant, 17 condoms as well as five wrapped presents â€“ four stuffed unicorn toys and a unicorn paint-by-number set. The undercover HSI agent told Beichl the fictitious 11-year-old he wanted to have sex with liked unicorns, according to court documents.
Beichl also carried with him a bottle of a sedative, Midazolam. Beichl previously wrote to the undercover agent, who posed as a man who could arrange sex with underage girls, "If she should be scared I could bring some short acting slight sedative, which is doing no harm," according to court documents.
Beichl agreed to pay $1,150 to spend eight hours with the girl at a hotel near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and agreed to pay extra to videotape the encounter, according to court documents.
United States v. Otto Linzenbach: Linzenbach, 63, of Leipzig, Germany, pleaded guilty in Cleveland on Aug. 9 to three crimes: attempted sex trafficking in children, attempted exploitation of children and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Linzenbach first emailed the undercover agent in June 2010. Linzenbach eventually inquired about the availability of a girl between the ages of 10 and 13 for sex and requested pictures of available girls, according to court records.
He eventually asked about the availability of a boy and girl and mailed a $100 deposit reserving the pair. He inquired about what sex acts the children would do with each other and with him. He also asked if he could videotape the encounter, according to court documents.
Linzenbach was arrested on April 1 after an undercover agent picked him up at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Cleveland. He paid $1,600 in cash before being arrested, according to court records.
United States v. Zachery Casey: Casey, 38, of Millersburg, Ohio, is currently serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to four charges earlier this year. Those charges include: attempted receipt of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, receipt and distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
While attempting to purchase child pornography from an undercover postal inspector, Casey inquired as to whether the undercover inspector knew where he could find a child with whom to have sex. The undercover inspector referred Casey to the ongoing undercover HSI operation.
Casey contacted the undercover HSI agent and made arrangements to travel to Canada through Cleveland to engage in sexual intercourse with an eight-year-old girl. While traveling by car with an undercover agent, Casey allegedly bragged about having sexual relations with two previous children. A search warrant executed at Casey's home revealed child pornography on his computer.
United States v. Jonathan Waltman: Waltman, 25, of Nashport, Ohio, pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to attempted sex trafficking of minors. Waltman, a registered sex offender, traveled from Nashport to Cleveland, thinking he was going to Detroit to engage in sex with an 8-year-old girl. Waltman could not go to Canada (the normal purported undercover trip) because he was still on parole for a molestation conviction.
Waltman paid extra money to the undercover agent so that he could take pictures of his sexual encounter, according to court documents. HSI agents from the Columbus office executed a search warrant at Waltman's house immediately after the arrest. Waltman bragged to the undercover agent how he would download and pleasure himself to child pornography on his computer. Then, he would remove the hard drive and hide it in the basement so that it would not be discovered by his parole officer. Agents recovered the hard drive.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael A. Sullivan and Carol M. Skutnik following investigations by ICE HSI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.