Sentenced

Sentenced (August 15, 2014)

A 30-year-old St Johns man pleaded guilty to nine counts of producing child pornography by tricking young girls and then extorting them, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday.

Lucas Michael Chansler faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison on each count as well as $250,000 in fines and a potential life term of supervised release, prosecutors said.

He posed on social media sites as a young male admirer of young teenage girls.

He engaged them in sex-related Web chats where they watched images of who they thought was the young man exposing himself or engaging in sexual acts, the indictment said.

The girls apparently didn't know they were being filmed on their webcam and some replied by exposing themselves.

They were sent clips of the videos under threat of having them revealed to friends and on social media unless they provided more explicit scenes.

Such crimes have been dubbed 'sextortion' cases.

The FBI says that's a type of blackmail during which a perpetrator threatens to release nude images of a victim to harm that person's reputation.

The term gained popularity after Miss California Teen USA 2013 Cassidy Wolf announced she had been a victim.

Using information received from a victim's parent in the Florida case, FBI agents found Chansler and his home in St. Johns County, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

On Jan. 8, 2010, agents executed a search warrant and analyzed his computer hard drive.

It revealed about 80,000 images and videos, many showing what appeared to be girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Chansler's competency to stand trial had been at issue after his arrest, initially deemed unable to help in his own defense because of a series of mental disorders.

But a federal judge ruled last week that Chansler's competency has been restored after years of treatment in a federal medical center in North Carolina.