No competitive plea for blackmailing officials with explicit photos

0

A South Florida man Wednesday pleaded not to contest charges related to trying to get $5,000 from a state senator after he threatened to post sexually explicit photos of her.

Jeremy Kamperveen, 20, of Plantation, filed an open plea in Broward County District Court, according to court documents. He was charged with racketeering, unlawful use of a two-way device and cyberstalking. The open plea means he has no deal with prosecutors, and his attorney Michael Heise said Kamperveen faces up to 21 years in prison at a July 19 hearing.

Kamperveen was arrested in November. An arrest report from the Broward Sheriff’s Office did not identify the victim, but Florida Senator Lauren Book, whose district includes part of Broward County, released a statement a few weeks later saying the threatening messages had been sent to her.

“I have been the victim of ongoing sexual harassment and extortion,” Book said in December. “I immediately notified law enforcement and worked closely with them to prosecute those responsible for sending threatening and disturbing images and messages to my phone, including distorted, fake, and stolen images created to intimidate me and to blackmail.”

Book is the chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and a longtime advocate for victims of child abuse and sexual abuse. She runs a group called Lauren’s Kids. Book did not immediately comment on Kamperveen’s plea, but her spokeswoman said Book and her husband would testify at next month’s victim impact hearing.

According to the arrest report, Book contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on November 12 after someone sent Book several explicit photos and threatened to ruin her political career by making them public. An undercover agent took over communications with the unidentified person and eventually negotiated to pay the person $4,000 in cash, rather than originally asking for $5,000, in exchange for watching the person perform the photos deleted. A meeting was scheduled for November 17 at a Sunrise Starbucks where agents arrested the individual and identified him as Kamperveen.

Kamperveen confessed to sending the messages and photos to Book, officials said. Searching Kamperveen’s phone, agents reported finding the messages and a folder containing photos and videos of Book. During the investigation, Book said she learned the images, including videos of her and her husband, were being sold and traded online.

The state senator’s experience led to her sponsorship legislation last spring, which would make it a criminal offense to buy, sell or trade in stolen sexually explicit images from someone’s phone or other digital device. It would also make the distribution of altered or engineered sexually explicit images, known as deepfakes, a crime and strengthen child pornography, revenge porn, and bestiality laws. The bill passed unanimously in the Florida House and Senate and awaits the Governor’s signature.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.