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'Operation Predator': 12 charged with child sex exploitation in Inland Empire

Corona resident Darian Anthony Tillman (L), Fontana resident Christine Diane Foster (R)

August 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Twelve defendants in the Inland Empire have been charged with child sexual exploitation offenses, it was announced Monday.

The charges are the result of a coordinated federal enforcement effort called "Operation Predator" involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office also provided substantial support with several of the cases. The effort is part of a federal crackdown on child sex offenders.

Additional child victims are suspected in some of the cases.

Corona resident Darian Anthony Tillman, 21, was among one of those charged. He's accused of extorting at least four minors into sending sexually explicit videos and photographs to himself, under a false name.

Also charged was Fontana resident Christine Diane Foster, 39, who is accused of taking pornographic pictures of a 3-year-old child in her care, then distributing the images via cellphone.

Information related to defendant Foster should be directed to ICE's toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Any leads related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into defendant Tillman should be referred to the FBI's local tip line 310-477-6565, which is staffed around the clock.

Two Apple Valley adults were also charged: Tabitha Walls and Kenyati Potts were charged with child sex trafficking and transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. The two are accused of meeting a 17-year-old girl in Las Vegas and forcing her to work in California as a prostitute in the Inland Empire, Hollywood and Los Angeles.

ICE named eight other defendants charged with sexual exploitation crimes as part of this initiative are:

- Michael Lee Lewis, 65, of Ontario, who was indicted for advertising, distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. He is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 23 in Los Angeles;

- Ryan Christopher Edgecomb, 32, of Murrieta, who was indicted for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography; his trial is scheduled for Sept. 10 in Riverside;

- Jarrett Wayne Martindale, Jr., 26, of Palm Desert, who was indicted for distributing, receiving, and possessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 21;

- Theodore William Reed, 58, of Victorville, who was indicted for failure to register as a sex offender and for whom an arrest warrant has been issued;

- Michael Weitzel, 56, of Palm Desert, who was charged in a felony information with possessing child pornography; a plea agreement has been filed in which Weitzel agrees to plead guilty to the charge; a warrant for Weitzel's arrest has been issued;

- Skyler J. Olberding, 26, of Washington, Iowa, was indicted for possessing child pornography; a warrant for Olberding's arrest has been issued;

- John Michael Dragan, 64, of Moreno Valley, who was indicted for receiving and possessing child pornography. His arraignment is set for Aug. 27 in Los Angeles; and

- Theron Charles Barron, 21, of Rialto, who was indicted for distributing, receiving, and possessing child pornography; a plea agreement has been filed in which Barron agrees to plead guilty to possession of child pornography; he is scheduled to plead guilty Aug. 19 in Riverside.

The charge of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The charges of sexual exploitation of a child and advertising child pornography each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years. The charge of sexual trafficking of a minor carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The charge of transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The charge of failure to register as a sex offender carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The charges of distribution of child pornography and receipt of child pornography each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years. The charge of possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline or by using its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, (800) 843-5678.


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