A Corona man accused of coercing four boys into sending him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves via the Internet is expected next week to plead guilty to a federal charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Darian Anthony Tillman, 21, was among five Riverside County residents snared in a nationwide law enforcement operation to catch suspected sexual predators, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Tillman was arrested in June following a two-month investigation into his contact with four boys, ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old, located in California, New York and Washington, prosecutors said.
Tillman signed a plea agreement last week acknowledging responsibility for his actions, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. His arraignment is slated for Aug. 28, but a courtroom has not yet been assigned for the hearing, which could be in either Los Angeles, Riverside or Santa Ana.
Tillman is free on a $100,000 cash bond, but he remains under home detention and can only leave his parents' two-story house in the 900 block of Yardley Way under strict conditions, according to court documents.
The basis for the investigation into the defendant's activity was his communication with a 15-year-old Albany, N.Y., boy, beginning in June 2012. According to a criminal complaint, Tillman met the boy via a smart phone application -- Skout -- which operates similar to a peer-to-peer network.
The defendant, using the pseudonym "Taylor Popov," initially carried on "non-sexual" conversations with the youth, but soon the talk turned to requests for intimate photos, according to the complaint.
The teenager told authorities that he at first refused, but when Tillman threatened to call the boy's parents and tell them he was meeting adults online, the teen relented and sent pictures showing him fondling himself, prosecutors allege.
Tillman then demanded sexually graphic videos -- again threatening the youth if he didn't comply, according to the complaint.
The boy sent multiple videos, including one in which he used a "toilet plunger as a sex toy" and another in which he masturbated and "ejaculated into his mouth," the complaint states.
Last September, the teen finally broke down and told a high school counselor about what had been happening, triggering an FBI investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Tillman was targeted in the Department of Homeland Security's Operation Predator. The other three victims, one of whom is a Corona resident and another a resident of Victorville, were located soon afterward.
Other county residents nabbed during Operation Predator, which focused on Internet-based sexual exploitation of minors, were identified as:
-- John Michael Dragan, 64, of Moreno Valley, indicted for receipt and possession of child pornography;
-- Ryan Christopher Edgecomb, 32, of Murrieta, indicted for distribution and receipt of child porn;
-- Jarrett Wayne Martindale Jr., 26, of Palm Desert, who recently pleaded guilty to possession of child porn;
-- Michael Weitzel, 56, of Palm Desert, charged with possession of child porn.
Martindale is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 21 and could face up to 15 years in federal prison.
Tillman could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison when he's sentenced later this year. The government would not disclose what sentence it intends to seek for the defendant. --City Service News