Facebook stalker sentenced to 10 years in prison
Alpeche accused of using social network posing as 15-year-old girl to lure girls, women
A 29-year-old Kauai man accused of using Facebook and other social networking websites to stalk, extort and sexually assault young female victims received consecutive five-year sentences Wednesday in two separate cases, according to the Kauai County Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.
The charges against Leonard Alpeche Jr. arose from incidents in 2010. He was charged with multiple counts of felony sexual assault and extortion.
To make initial contact with his victims, Alpeche used the identity of an actual 15-year-old local girl under a Facebook account that he created. He then sent messages to the girls he targeted, as if it was coming from the 15-year-old girl, whose identity he hijacked, claiming to be a model for a fictitious modeling company on Kauai that catered to residents of the North Shore.
The message would encourage the girls to contact an email address or phone number to sign up for lucrative modeling contracts. Once a girl responded, Alpeche would then use a series of email addresses, phone numbers, and Internet messaging services to masquerade as a number of different people including a secretary for the modeling company, a modeling company agent, and ultimately, a photographer.
In order to "audition" the victims for the bogus contracts, he requested bikini, semi-nude, and nude photos. After receiving the revealing photos, Alpeche then demanded in-person meetings with the girls, and threatened to release the photos if the girls did not comply.
In the first charged case, Alpeche, posing as the modeling company agent, coerced the victim, 21, to meet him at the Lihue Ballpark. If the victim did not comply, he stated that the audition pictures the victim previously sent would be sent to her friends, family, and coworkers, whom he named specifically.
When the victim arrived at the park, Alpeche concealed his identity with a mask and a hood, and claimed to be an unwilling victim himself. He stated that the modeling agency had been contacted by was part of an organized crime syndicate, and that the mobsters involved would harm both him and his young son if he did not provide them with pictures of himself and the victim engaging in sex acts.
After the assault, the victim reported the incident to the Kauai Police Department, which began the three-month investigation.
Police was able to identify and capture Alpeche, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal his identity.
In January 2011, Alpeche was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and extortion arising out of the ballpark incident.
"The Kauai Police Department, led by Detective Randy Chong Tim, Lieutenant Dan Fort, and Assistant Chief Roy Asher, did a phenomenal job with this investigation," said Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho. "Solving, charging, and convicting Alpeche is an example of law enforcement collaboration at its best."
After Alpeche was charged and the nature of his crimes made public, the FBI contacted the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Kauai Police Department regarding a similar case involving a minor.
Using the same phony modeling agency scheme, an unknown suspect extorted over $7,500 from the victim, and threatened to release the revealing "audition" photos of the minor if she did not provide money and sex during a total of five separate encounters.
Before the last encounter, one of the family members learned of the scheme and recorded the serial numbers on the bills, which they later provided to the FBI. Kauai police had already recovered the money during the ballpark assault investigation against Alpeche, and was able to match the serial numbers on the bills to the case involving the minor.
In order to strengthen the case against Alpeche, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office decided to transfer the minor's case to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for prosecution alongside the already-charged ballpark case. The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, in consultation with the victims and their families, entered into a plea agreement that required Alpeche to agree to a 10-year term of imprisonment.
Alpeche plead guilty on May 23 and was sentenced by Judge Kathleen Watanabe on September 12.
First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane represented the state while Deputy Public Defender John Calma represented Alpeche.
"Alpeche is a new breed of predator," First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane told the court, "Lurking in the anonymous shadows of the Internet to prey on these young and vulnerable victims."
"Although he wasn’t charged with theft, Mr. Alpeche stole something from each of the victims," Delaplane said. "He stole their innocence, their sense of security, and the ability to live a normal life."
Calma said it was technology and social media that made this crime possible. He said Alpeche is a bright man who has made himself a model prisoner and accepted responsibility for his actions.
"I agree with Mr. Calma’s statement about the defendant’s intelligence," Delaplane explained. "He's dangerously intelligent, which makes him that much more of a threat to the public."
After hearing arguments from counsel, Judge Watanabe announced that she would follow the terms of the agreement, imposing two consecutive five-year terms, totaling 10 years of imprisonment.
Watanabe also commended the prosecution, defense, and law enforcement agency collaboration that helped spare the victims and their families from having to relive the "horror of the hell that [Alpeche] put them through."
In addition to the 10-year prison term, Alpeche will be required to undergo Sex Offender treatment, pay over $5,000 in restitution to the minor victim’s family, and must register as a sex offender for life.
"Sexual Assaults are some of the most heinous and complicated offenses that we handle," said Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho. "Our specialized training, experience, and partnerships with the Kauai Police Department, FBI, and U.S. Attorney's Office were key to bringing Alpeche to justice. We hope that this sentence will provide comfort and security to victims and their families."
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