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Case Number: 1:17-cr-00183-TWP-TAB
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (Marion County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: Indianapolis, Indiana criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with sexually exploiting a minor.
Buster Hernandez, 29, of Bakersfield, California, was initially charged with sexually exploiting a minor, threatening to use an explosive device and threatening to kill, kidnap, or injure another person. Those charges eventually extended to include 41 separate allegations including: the production of child pornography, the coercion and enticement of minors, the receipt and distribution of child pornography, the threatened use of explosive devices, extortion, threats to kill, kidnap or injure other persons, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and retaliation against a victim. The offense conduct included the actual or attempted sextortion of at least 375 victims including those from two foreign countries, threats to kill, rape, and kidnap hundreds and threats to use explosive devices against Plainfield and Danville High Schools, the Shops at Perry Crossing, and a local Walmart.
“Today we mark, with quiet satisfaction, that here evil has been met with justice. Conduct like this falls so far outside even the most basic understanding of human decency and compassion that our natural inclination might be to look away from this horrible spectacle,” said Childress. “We cannot do so. We must acknowledge that evil such as this exists in our world so that we might give thanks for those brave men and women who give their all to see that it does not prevail and so that we are all reminded to do whatever we must to protect our children.”
“Today also marks a milestone in a long and complex case that represents the efforts of an extremely talented group of federal prosecutors and law enforcement and state and local law enforcement from across the county. Sadly, but with hope for the future, today also allows us to importantly acknowledge the many victims of the defendant and even more importantly allows us to express our solidarity with them and to pledge our continued efforts in support of their healing.”
In December of 2015, the Brownsburg Police Department contacted the FBI asking for assistance with a cyber-threat case involving a minor female victim (Victim 1) who was a resident of Plainfield, Indiana. For approximately 16 months, Hernandez used Facebook under different aliases to communicate with Victim 1 to extort sexually explicit pictures from her. This crime is commonly referred to as “sextortion.”
When Victim 1’s mother intervened, and refused to provide additional images, Hernandez, using the alias, “Brian Kil” threatened to kill Victim 1, her mother, younger sister, and boyfriend. Hernandez also posted on Facebook that he intended to bomb Plainfield and Danville High Schools, The Shops at Perry Crossing, and Walmart in the Plainfield area.
Hernandez posted, “I am coming for you. I will slaughter your entire class and save you for last.” He further made threats to law enforcement saying, “I will add a dozen dead police to my tally…Try me pigs, I will finish you off as well.” Hernandez also threatened school administrators and parents.
In the interest of public safety, school administrators decided to close the Plainfield and Danville High Schools and The Shops at Perry Crossing in Plainfield was also evacuated and closed until Dec. 19, 2015.
In response to the threats, Plainfield school administrators and law enforcement scheduled a community forum at the high school. More than 1000 people attended. As part of his criminal tradecraft, Hernandez used counterintelligence at the forum. He coerced Victim 3, whom he had been extorting for years, to attend the forum, take notes, and record law enforcement’s statements about the investigation into “Brian Kil.” Hernandez then posted information about the forum to make it appear as though he lived among his victims and could harm them at any moment. When discussing sending Victim 3 to the community forum, Hernandez said to Victim 3, “a lot of people think im too far to do anything. Thanks to you ill be quoting [expletive] directly from the forum. People are going to think twice about their kids safety after that.”
Hernandez also sexually exploited and threatened several other minor victims in Hendricks County and other cities in Indiana. When victims stopped complying with his demands, he posted sexually explicit images and videos that the victim had sent against their will and often threatened to kill them and their families.
Hernandez also used sophisticated methods to obfuscate his identity and encrypt his devices. In the summer of 2017, the FBI discovered that the person using the moniker “Brian Kil” and hundreds of other aliases was an unemployed 26-year-old male named Buster Hernandez. Hernandez was living with his girlfriend and her 85-year-old grandmother in Bakersfield California. In total, Hernandez victimized no less than 375 victims from around the country.
This investigation was jointly conducted by the FBI, the Indiana State Police, the Plainfield Police Department, the Brownsburg Police Department, and the Washington County Maryland Sheriff’s Office.
“Mr. Hernandez has been sitting in a jail cell for more than three years since a collective law enforcement effort put an end to his reign of terror, and today’s sentence ensures he will remain behind bars for a very long time, unable to victimize anyone else, ever again,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The communities of Plainfield and Danville, and those in other states where he victimized young girls, can rest easy knowing the FBI and our partners worked tirelessly and used all our resources to find him and bring this day about.”
The Indiana State Police proudly stands with our law enforcement partners as this complex case comes to a close and a person is held accountable for their actions that affected so many people,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.
“The Plainfield Police Department is very pleased with the outcome of this multi-jurisdictional and nationwide investigation, prosecution and sentencing,” said Plainfield Police Chief Jared McKee. “Our hope is that the conviction and sentencing of this perpetrator is a relief to the many victims seeking closure. The countless victims, Town of Plainfield residents, the entire Plainfield Community School Corporation, and communities all over the country can find comfort in knowing that justice has been served. Our agency would like to thank the efforts of our federal, state, and local partners in bringing this case to closure, including the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, the Indiana State Police and the Brownsburg Police Department.”
“This investigation is a shining example of the local, state, and federal cooperation that exists to effectively investigate and capture the predators that focus upon our children, said Brownsburg Police Chief Joseph Grimes. “The Brownsburg Police Department is proud to be part of the team that makes the protection of our children a priority and does not waiver in its stance to effectively locate and apprehend those who seek to bring them harm. We stand steadfast in support of the victims in their time of healing, as they are the true heroes in demonstrating bravery through adversity.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who prosecuted this case for the government, Hernandez must also serve a lifetime of supervised release following his imprisonment.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 75 years in prison.