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Couple arrested for extorting would-be internet sex predators

7-22-2006 Ohio:

.CARROLLTON, OH - A local couple was locked up, accused of targeting would-be sex predators in their crimes. Investigators say they got the idea from the popular Dateline NBC series "To catch a predator," where men are set up by reporter Chris Hansen then turned over to police. But, in this Carroll County case, the suspects had a different motivation - money. The fair has begun in Carroll County but that's not what people are talking about on the square. "It's just repulsive,” Kelly Strock said. “So I don't know, I guess they're both pretty bad."

People don't know where to direct their outrage, at the predators, in this case the victims, or the suspects, 22-year-old Michael Barnett, AWOL from the Army for two years, and Barnett's wife, 21-year old Maria Catini - barely five feet tall - from Italy. Both face charges they used nude pictures and video of Maria to lure potential predators to Carroll County. "She was emailing people and telling them - I think he was involved in it also – [that] she was fifteen years old, soliciting herself for sex," Dale Williams with the Carroll County Sheriff's Department said. ..more.. : by WKYC-TV / Gannett News Service


3 more indicted in extortion scheme
11-13-2006 Ohio:
.Three more people have been charged in connection with an alleged scam to extort money from online sexual predators. Felony indictments have been handed down in Carroll County Common Pleas Court against Dustin J. Bailey, 18, of 188 Port Cl., Carrollton, and Michael L. Mercer, 18, and Russel A. Slagle, 20, both of Salineville. Each face one count of attempted extortion and are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

According to investigators, on July 7, the three aided and abetted Michael B. Barnett, 22, and Maria D. Catini, 21, in the scheme. No details on what role the three played were available. Barnett of Salineville and Catini of Toronto were indicted in September on three counts extortion, two counts attempted extortion and three counts robbery.

Barnett and Catini, who are married, reportedly have admitted luring sexual predators to the area via the Internet since early this year. Investigators have said the couple would make contact with the predators over the telephone, making arrangements for them to meet and have sex with Catini, who was posing as a 15-year-old girl.

When the predators would report to the designated area on Rt. 39 near Salineville, Barnett would hide nearby, photograph the predators, then demand their money and valuables. ..more.. : by The Times Reporter

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