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Man pleads guilty to extorting teen girls

Salt Lake Couty Jail/KSL

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    WEST JORDAN, Utah (KSL) — A South Jordan man accused of extorting teenage girls on social media has pleaded guilty to all nine counts against him.

Gabe Ryan Gilbert, was charged in 2019 in 3rd District Court with five counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child, a first-degree felony, and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony.

On Wednesday he pleaded guilty to each charge. Gilbert, 21, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.

Gilbert contacted several girls between the ages of 14 and 17 using multiple Snapchat accounts starting in April 2018, and then used those accounts to “threaten, extort and blackmail underage girls to send him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves,” according to court documents.

The investigation began in August 2018 when a 15-year-old girl reported to authorities that Gilbert “had threatened to photoshop images of her face onto nude photos unless she sent real nude pictures of herself,” charging documents state. In one Snapchat conversation, Gilbert is accused of aggressively threatening to “expose” the girl if she didn’t send a picture in one minute.

As an investigator from the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children task force began looking into the case, he noted in charging documents that “it was obvious (Gilbert) had been engaging in very similar behavior with other underage girls.”

“More than 50 victims were identified in just one of Gilbert’s Snapchat accounts,” according to the statement filed in support of his guilty plea.

If the girls would not send him explicit images after he threatened to distribute edited photos, he would “resort to more violent threats,” according to the court filing.

“His messages included threats to send rapists and human traffickers to her house,” investigators wrote in court documents detailing his threats to a 14-year-old girl. When the girl replied that she was not scared of Gilbert, he “sent four screenshots of (her) exact location, down to an image of her house,” according to the court documents, and also sent messages including, “I hope your house has good security,” and “I’m sending out your location and username … to as many creeps on the web as I can find.”

In March 2019 when task force investigators went to Gilbert’s house to question him, they learned that he was in Mexico serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had left for his mission about two months after attempting to extort a 15-year-old girl, charging documents state. Gilbert was sent home from his mission soon afterward.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed that in exchange for the guilty pleas, they will recommend “that a maximum sentence of five years will be a just sentence in this matter,” court records state.

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