Criminal Justice News

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hammond Man Who Advertised Minors for Sex on Backpage.com Sentenced to Life in Prison


HAMMOND – Ronnie Cosby, 42 years old, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced on April 23, 2018, by District Court Judge Philip Simon to life imprisonment following his convictions of one count of sex trafficking a minor, two counts of transporting a minor for prostitution and two counts of producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

U.S. Attorney Kirsch said, “Mr. Cosby engaged in horrific acts of sex trafficking involving minors.  As demonstrated by the conviction and sentence in this case, such acts carry severe consequences for those who commit them.  Sex trafficking and crimes involving minor victims will never be tolerated.  My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to come after individuals who commit these horrible crimes to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

According to publicly available information in the case, between December 2014 and February 2015, Cosby caused two minor females to engage in prostitution at his apartment in Hammond, Indiana, and other nearby locations.  Cosby met one victim, a 14 year-old homeless girl, on Badoo, an online dating website, and within hours began prostituting her out of his apartment in Hammond, Indiana.  Cosby met the second victim, a 15 year-old high school student, through a friend, and within a day offered her sexual services online to men in exchange for money.  Cosby transported this second minor victim from Hammond to a hotel in Lansing, Illinois, where he and another working at his direction kept her under constant surveillance while arranging for men to come to the hotel to have sex with her.  Cosby took sexually explicit images of both minor victims using his mobile phone and uploaded the images to Backpage.com, a website he used to offer them up to strangers interested in paying for sex.  Cosby also texted images of both victims to friends and repeat prostitution customers to drum up additional business.

In a coordinated law enforcement operation last month, the Justice Department seized Backpage.com, the Internet’s leading forum for prostitution ads, including ads depicting the prostitution of children.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Hammond Police Department with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of the Northwest Indiana Human Trafficking Working Group.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Abizer Zanzi and Jill Koster.

St. John Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison For Receipt of Child Pornography


HAMMOND – Daniel Labuda, 39 years old, of St. John, Indiana, was sentenced by District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen on his plea of guilty to receipt of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

Labuda was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment followed by five years supervised release and ordered to pay $48,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, between November 2012 and January 2013, Labuda downloaded and received child pornography from various foreign websites.  Over the course of the years he collected over 390,000 still images and over 1,900 videos of child pornography including numerous visual depictions of prepubescent minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and child pornography depicting torture and violence against children.  Labuda attempted to hide this criminal activity by using anonymizing software and encryption.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section Trial Attorney Leslie Fisher and Assistant U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Abizer Zanzi.

Dyer Man Sentenced To 150 Months in Prison For Accessing Child Pornography

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HAMMOND- James Struensee, 48 years old, of Dyer, Indiana, was sentenced before Hammond District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen following his plea of guilty for accessing an internet connected computer system with intent to view child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

Struensee was sentenced to 150 months imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.  He was also ordered to pay a fine of $40,000.

According to documents in this case, in 2015 Struensee logged into a website using a TOR browser to access child pornography involving prepubescent children.  Struensee admitted to, over the course of years, searching, accessing, and viewing over 200 images of child pornography.  In 2000, he was convicted of receipt of child pornography (via U.S. mail) in the Northern District of Illinois.

This case was investigated by the FBI GRIT Task Force with the assistance of the Indiana State Police and was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Alexandra McTague.