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Child Exploitation

Former college tennis coach sentenced for attempted receipt of child pornography

RICHMOND, Va. - Steven Gerstenfeld, 48, of Richmond, Va., was sentenced today to 60 months in prison following his guilty plea to attempted receipt of child pornography, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-led investigation. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson imposed the sentence. James Dinkins, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Virginia, Dana J. Boente, Acting U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Jennifer Love, special agent in charge, FBI Richmond Field Office, made the announcement.

Gerstenfeld was the head coach for the men's tennis team at the University of Richmond when he came to the attention of law enforcement officials during the course of an ICE undercover investigation known as Project Flicker. In April 2006, ICE initiated Project Flicker to examine a criminal organization operating and controlling numerous commercial child exploitation websites. The investigation determined that the criminal organization was operating a two-tiered child pornography distribution system. Numerous websites were set up to advertise access to member-restricted websites. From these advertising sites users would pay for unlimited access for one month, usually through the services of PayPal, to a member-restricted website containing child pornography images. Following the PayPal transaction, members were emailed a user name and password for the access.

Federal investigators obtained records from PayPal indicating that from October 2006 to March 2007 Gerstenfeld subscribed at least six times to member-restricted websites that the ICE investigation confirmed were distributing child pornography. For those PayPal transactions, Gerstenfeld provided his email account at the University of Richmond. On Oct. 23, 2007, investigators with ICE, the FBI and the University of Richmond Police Department executed a federal search warrant on the defendant's office at the university, where they seized the defendant's computer. Forensic analysis of this computer revealed evidence of numerous images of child pornography stored on the computer.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.