(WDVM) — An Ashburn, Virginia man was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in federal prison for orchestrating a Snapchat “sextortion” ring which targeted children, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.
Joseph Isaiah Woodson Jr., 30, will serve 600 months as well as a lifetime of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. He was convicted on Sept. 27, 2019 in Florida on three counts of production of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, one count of sending extortionate threats, and one count of conspiracy.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida said Woodson Jr. was coercing multiple underage girls across the country to take cellphone videos and photos of themselves in sexually explicit positions.
According to evidence from the trial, Woodson Jr. also manipulated the children into giving him the passwords to their Snapchat accounts by pretending to be their friends on social media. Authorities said Woodson Jr. used his control of their accounts to demand the victims send him sexually explicit videos and photos of themselves using “KIK,” a texting app. Woodson Jr. “conspired with others to systematically extort and exploit children using the internet,” the news release said.
“Joseph Isaiah Woodson, Jr. is a menace who preyed on the most vulnerable among us, children,” said George L. Piro, special agent in charge at FBI Miami.
U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Chief W. Howard Harrison of the Planation Police Department, and Chief Dale Engle of the Davie Police Department made the joint announcement in a news release on Friday.
“We implore the community to help us protect our loved ones by monitoring our children’s social media accounts and reporting all suspected offenses to law enforcement,” Orshan said.