Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the arrest of THOMAS RIVERA. RIVERA is charged with communicating online with a 13-year-old girl and persuading the girl to meet him in Dutchess County, New York to engage in sexual activities. RIVERA was presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy in White Plains federal court and detained.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Through the use of video game chats, Thomas Rivera is alleged to have found and lured a 13-year-old girl into meeting him in person for the purpose of exploiting her for sex. The conduct alleged against Rivera is assuredly terrifying to any parent, and a reminder that a seemingly innocuous video game can be utilized as a weapon by online predators; we urge anyone caring for children to be mindful of their children’s online activities.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint filed on June 3, 2022 in White Plains federal court:
On or about April 3, 2022, at approximately 4:50 p.m., the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department (“TPPD”) received a report from the Town of Hyde Park Police Department concerning a 13-year-old girl being raped by a subject named “Thomas” at a hotel (“Hotel-1”) in the Town of Poughkeepsie. TPPD officers were dispatched to Hotel-1. Upon their arrival, they determined that a “Thomas Rivera” was staying in a particular room and they went to that room. RIVERA opened the door and was detained. A 13-year-old child (“Victim-1”) was found in the bathroom. Victim-1 advised that RIVERA, the defendant, had attempted to rape her.
On or about May 3, 2022, a Special Agent of the FBI (“Agent-1”) met with Victim-1, who stated, among other things and in substance and part, that she met RIVERA online in or about February 2022, while playing an online video game. Thereafter, they communicated via various gaming apps and social media platforms, including Discord and Snapchat. Victim-1 told RIVERA that she was 14 years old and in middle school. RIVERA told her that he was 31 and would be turning 32 in March. Victim-1 reported that RIVERA repeatedly asked Victim-1 to take and send him nude photos of herself. RIVERA told her that he was going to come and see her. They made a plan and he picked her up near her house.
At the time of his arrest by TPPD officers on April 3, 2022, RIVERA possessed a phone, which was seized. RIVERA’s phone revealed sexually explicit messages between RIVERA and Victim-1 exchanged via Snapchat from in or about February 23, 2022 up to in or about April 3, 2022.
On April 3, 2022, RIVERA was interviewed by TPPD detectives. Among other things, RIVERA admitted that he met Victim-1 online playing games about two months ago, that they began speaking daily via voice calls and text, that they discussed sex, and that he travelled to New York to see Victim-1. RIVERA was charged in Town of Poughkeepsie Justice Court with Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, and was released on bail.
There may be other victims of this alleged conduct. If you have information to report, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
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RIVERA, 32 of Lauderhill, Florida is charged with one count of enticement of a minor, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The statutory minimum and maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Following today’s presentment, Judge McCarthy ordered that THOMAS RIVERA be detained.
Mr. Williams praised the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the Town of Hyde Park Police Department, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, and the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office. He added that the investigation is ongoing.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney Marcia S. Cohen is in charge of the prosecution.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.