TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Philadelphia man was sentenced to state prison in New Jersey today for blackmailing a man who responded to his Craigslist advertisement soliciting homosexual sex.
Steven J. Beisher, 43, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert in Burlington County, N.J. He also was ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Beisher pleaded guilty on March 17 to an accusation charging him with second-degree theft by extortion. In pleading guilty, Beisher admitted that he extorted a total of $1,950 from the victim, who is a New Jersey resident.
Deputy Attorney General Naju R. Lathia prosecuted Beisher and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The case was investigated by Detective Sgt. 1st Class Cyril Bleistine and Detective Jose Samol of the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit.
“This was an old-fashioned case of blackmail that occurred in the modern context of personal ads and sexual solicitation on the Internet,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “There are all types of predators who lurk in the shadows of the Internet. When individuals like Beisher commit serious crimes, we stand ready to investigate them, prosecute them and send them to prison.”
“Our computer crimes unit handles a wide range of cases, from child predators, to major Internet-based financial fraud, to bottom-feeding crooks like Beisher,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our attorneys and detectives, and our partners in the State Police, are trained and equipped to handle the most sophisticated online and technology-based cases.”
An investigation by the New Jersey State Police revealed that Beisher posted a personal ad on Craigslist soliciting homosexual sex. The victim responded to the ad in August 2012 and sent Beisher a naked photo of himself. Beisher found the victim’s telephone number and address and called him the following day, threatening to expose the victim to his wife and family if he did not pay Beisher money. Beisher called repeatedly to demand that the victim meet him at various locations in Philadelphia to make payments. The victim met Beisher seven times over the course of nine days, making payments ranging from $200 to $400. The victim paid Beisher a total of $1,950 before refusing to meet him again and reporting him to the State Police.
Beisher has eight prior felony convictions in Pennsylvania, including five burglary convictions and two convictions for receiving stolen property. Most recently, he was convicted of theft by extortion in Pennsylvania in October 2012.