A Ramona man has been jailed on suspicion of distributing child sex abuse materials over the internet, federal authorities announced today.
Jason Charles Nicholas, 53, was taken into custody Sept. 21 and faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The events that led to Nicholas’ arrest began Aug. 3, when an FBI agent in the Jacksonville, Florida area posed as a parent of an 11-year-old child on a social media application in an attempt to identify people trying to sexually exploit children, the FBI said.
The agent began a private conversation on the app with a user named “cldad,” who was subsequently identified as Nicholas, according to federal authorities.
The suspect allegedly claimed to live in Florida and expressed a desire to meet the supposed parent at the latter’s residence in the northeast part of the East Coast state to arrange having sex with the child, the FBI said.
Later, Nicholas abandoned that plan and allegedly began threatening to expose the purported criminal plan unless the “parent” streamed live video of the “child” to Nicholas, according to federal authorities. After the agent refused, Nicholas allegedly apologized for making the threats, and the two continued online conversations for several weeks, the FBI said.
Nicholas allegedly went on to tell the agent about his longtime practice of brushing up against and taking surreptitious photos of young girls in public places and said he had abused a young child after overdosing the minor with medication, according to federal authorities.
During an online conversation on Aug. 17, Nicholas allegedly sent the agent six videos and two photos that depicted young children being sexually abused, the FBI said.
On Sept. 21, FBI agents and sheriff’s deputies took Nicholas into custody as he was on his way to work. Federal authorities said investigators also executed a federal search warrant at Nicholas’ home, resulting in the seizure of several electronic devices, federal authorities said.
The case was investigated by the Clay County and St. Johns County sheriff’s offices in Florida, the Jacksonville, Florida, and San Diego County FBI offices, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.