DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

YouTube "Star" Admits Receipt Of Child Porn

Singer, 25, faces minimum of five years in prison

Mike Lombardo

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Mike Lombardo Plea

SEPTEMBER 18--A musician whose large YouTube following was mainly comprised of teenage girls pleaded guilty today to a federal child porn charge for soliciting illicit images from a 15-year-old fan, one of six minors with whom he swapped sexually explicit photos and videos.

During a hearing this morning in U.S. District Court in Syracuse, Michael Lombardo pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography, a felony carrying a maximum prison term of 20 years (and a mandatory minimum of five years in custody). He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

In a plea agreement struck with federal prosecutors, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter admitted exchanging lewd images with six separate minor victims over a two-year period. Lombardo, whose upstate New York home was raided by the FBI in late-2011, was arrested in July 2012.

The plea document details Lombardo’s interactions with the six teenagers, and includes disturbing transcripts of online chats with girls aged 15 and 16.

During a September 2010 conversation with the older girl, Lombardo (seen above) suggested that she delete chat logs and photos they exchanged. Referring to the material, Lombardo wrote, “that’s like 5 years in federal prison and sex offender registration.” He added, “until you’re 18. Lol.”

Lombardo later declared that “child porn is bad.” When the girl replied, “as in corruption of a minor, no?,” Lombardo clarified his comment. “haha,” he wrote. “as in big jail time.”

The agreement also quotes from a November 2010 Skype video chat with the 15-year-old. During that conversation, Lombardo--who was naked and masturbating--directed the girl, who was “bending at the waist with her anus and vagina exposed," to engage in a series of lewd acts with a hairbrush.

Prosecutors reported that an FBI forensic analysis of Lombardo’s phone and laptops located “10 videos of child pornography and 63 image files of child pornography.”

Lombardo, a Berklee College of Music graduate, has been described by federal agents as having a “following of female fans ranging from middle-school aged children through college-age students.” Before going underground after his home was raided, Lombardo was active on YouTube, Tumblr, and Twitter, online outposts where fans gathered to discuss the musician’s videos, recordings, and live performances.

Lombardo, who remains free on a personal recognizance bond, is scheduled for sentencing on January 24. (6 pages)