PROVIDENCE – A New Jersey man who befriended three Rhode Island minor females and a fourth in Indiana on social media, persuading them to send him sexually explicit photographs of themselves, and then cyberstalked and threatened to share some of the photographs if they refused to continue to communicate with him, was sentenced on Tuesday to more than seven years in federal prison.
t, 24, of Closter, NJ, threatened to share the photographs on social media with the girls’ classmates and others.
According to court documents, Patel befriended the girls on various social media platforms and persuaded them to send sexually explicit photographs of themselves to him. He sent sexually explicit photographs of himself to the girls and, in at least one instance, communicated in much the same way via a live video chat.
Patel pleaded guilty on April 30, 2020, to charges of cyberstalking and receipt of child pornography, admitting that he threatened and harassed the girls on social media, by text messaging, and /or by calling them, and that he repeatedly demanded that they resume communicating with him and unblock his access to their social media accounts. Patel admitted that he threatened to post the sexually explicit photos of them online and that he would share them with their friends, classmates, and family members. He also threatened to create Instagram accounts in the girls’ names and use those accounts to post the pictures online.
On at least one occasion he followed through on his threats by posting a sexually explicit picture of a 13-year-old girl from Indiana on an Instagram account he created using her name.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy sentenced Patel to 90 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years’ supervised release; pay each of the four victims restitution in the amount of $3,000; and ordered Patel to pay a mandatory assessment of $5,000 as provided for in the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act.
Patel’s sentence is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lee H. Vilker.
The investigation into Patel’s criminal activity began when the family of one of the girls brought the matter to the attention of the Hopkinton, R.I., Police Department.
United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker acknowledge and commend the Hopkinton Police Department for their investigative efforts that ultimately led to the identity and arrest of Patel, and thank Rhode Island State Police and New Jersey State Police for their assistance in the investigation.