Former Fort Eustis soldier gets 30 years in prison for blackmailing children into sending sexual photos

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eastern-district-logoA 39-year-old former soldier who was stationed at Fort Eustis was sentenced to 30 years in prison in federal court Thursday for production of child pornography.

Daniel Joseph Salgat, of Bay City, Mich., was convicted of four counts of production of child pornography July 14 after he portrayed himself online as a young female to get images and videos of underage girls, according a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia news release.

According to the case’s statement of facts, Salgat was arrested Nov. 5, 2015 after obtaining sexual videos and photos from children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. Salgat hacked into the girls’ social media accounts, blackmailed them and live video chatted with them to obtain the photos and videos, court records show.

“He admitted that he would threaten the girls by saying that he was going to send out their sexual videos,” read the case’s statement of facts.

Salgat will be on supervised release for the rest of his life after he is released from prison, and is required to pay $1,202.58 to one victim of his crimes, the release said.

He will be required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction he lives in, is a student in or works in, according to the plea agreement.

Salgat used mobile chat apps called “WeChat” and “Kik,” a photo sharing app called “Instagram” and email to receive and send photos with the children, according to the case statement of facts.

Salgat obtained images through chats with a 14-year-old, Jane Doe 1, between March and August 2015. After obtaining some images, he blackmailed the girl, who had previously lived in Newport News, threatening to tell her mother if she did not continue to send him nude photographs and video chat while nude.

In May, he hacked into Jane Doe 1’s Instagram account and sent messages to some of Jane Doe 1’s friends, requesting sexual photos and videos of them. Two friends responded and sent photos back to Salgat, court records state.

One of the children who sent photos, 14-year-old Jane Doe 3, believed she was reconnecting with a past friend, Jane Doe 1, court records state. In May, Jane Doe 3 sent several sexually explicit images to Salgat over Instagram.

Around the same time in May, Salgat was talking with a third 14-year-old, Jane Doe 4. The girl believed Salgat was a 15-year-old girl, and sent nude images to Salgat after he sent explicit photos of another girl to her.

In early July, Jane Doe 4 agreed to leave a pair of her underwear at a lake on Fort Eustis, which Salgat admitted he kept for about a week before trying to give them to Jane Doe 2, court records state.

On July 10, the mother of Jane Doe 2 called the Newport News Police Department to report her 10-year-old daughter had been talking to a person over Kik and Instagram, and that person had requested her daughter come outside to perform oral sex on him, according to court records.

On July 13, the mother of Jane Doe 2 called police again, saying the person was messaging Jane Doe 2 and threatening to “do things to her” if she didn’t perform the sexual acts they were requesting.

“During this messaging, the unknown subject asked Jane Doe 2 if she found the black underwear that was left for her outside of her home in the bushes by the driveway on the neighbor’s side,” the statement of facts read.

Police found the underwear and placed it into evidence at the police department.

Investigators obtained search warrants for Jane Doe 2’s Kik and Instagram accounts in July, and were able to trace the accounts to Salgat in August. The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Salgat Nov. 5 after tracing evidence back to Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4.

He admitted to talking to over 100 underage girls on the internet, court documents state.

According to the statement of facts: “These girls believed that they were talking to someone their own age. He would provide them with one of their friend’s names and say that person gave him her name. SALGAT said that he would talk to each girl for a short period of time, then move on to the next one. He would typically direct them to do sexual things on webcam. … He admitted that he would pressure the girls to do sexual things that they did not want to do and then he would leave them alone.”

Kik is an international chat app with over 300 million registered users, according to the Kik website. Kik, which is headquartered in Ontario, Canada, was founded in 2009.

The app allows users to connect with their friends on other social media platforms and in games, through chatting and sharing media. Users can sign up under an alias, which is not their legal name.

“We take online safety very seriously, and we’re constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures, ” Kik Director of Communications Rod McLeod said in a statement to WYDaily for a story involving Kik Jan. 6. “We believe it is possible to both protect user privacy and get rid of bad actors on our platform, using a combination of technology and human effort to remove users who violate our terms of service or harass other users.”

Kik has upgraded its users’ ability to filter unknown senders and report content or contact that violates Kik terms of service, McLeod added.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse, the news release said.

Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood helps locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit projectsafechildhood.gov.