It’s the same scenario, over and over: A man contacts someone he thinks is a child online, grooms the young teen over time, finally arranges a meeting for sex and promptly gets arrested when he shows up because the person he was talking to for months was an FBI agent.
After that, it’s just a matter of a guilty plea and federal prison. These defendants typically have zero defense because the feds have the entire chat history as evidence.
In the past few years, a Pittsburgh FBI task force has arrested at least 10 men in the same kind of sting operation, and this week another of them admitted to what he’d done.
Thomas Kastory, 31, of Emsworth, pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to attempted coercion of a minor into sex.
Agents arrested him in May when he showed up at Heinz Field hoping to have sex with a 14-year-old.
U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said he’d sentence Kastory in March.
The case began when an agent posed on social media as a teenage Pittsburgh girl. Kastory made contact online in April calling himself “$mokeALot.” Unlike many other predators who slowly groom children, Kastory immediately sent a video of a man touching his erection.
Kastory said he was 31 and lived near Bellevue, and he sent more images of his face and genitals.
He and the agent switched to texting, and the FBI tracked his address to Locust Street.
Kastory continued to send penis pictures through May and then suggested a meeting at Ross Park Mall for sex in a JC Penney changing room.
Kastory later discussed meeting near Heinz Field and then going to the girl’s house for sex. He said he’d bring condoms and a sex toy.
On May 29, agents watched Kastory get on a bus at Route 65 and Camp Horne Road and get off on the North Shore. They arrested him near Heinz Field.
Inside a nylon bag he was carrying, agents found condoms, lubricant and a vibrator.
His case is similar in almost every aspect to these others, all charged federally in recent years:
• Thomas Yocum Jr., 34, of Pittsburgh. Yocum was arrested in September after the FBI said he responded to a fake profile of a 13-year-old girl, groomed her for sex, sent her penis pictures and then arranged to meet her. When the girl said she was a virgin and scared to have sex, he sent her an article about virgins having sex, according to an affidavit. Eventually Yocum arrived for a meeting at a location prosecutors did not disclose, and the FBI took him into custody. His case is pending before Judge Ranjan.
• Anthony Antosz, 46, of the North Side. Calling himself “Tony northside” online, he made contact with someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl. He initiated sexual talk on social media in January, saying he was 34 but later admitting he was 45. He sent an image of his face and his cell number. Eventually he sent images of his crotch and told the girl he was worried that he’d go to jail and be on the news if he got caught. Both concerns proved to be accurate after he bought a Lyft ticket for the girl to visit his house on Perrysville Avenue. The FBI showed up instead of the girl and arrested him. He pleaded guilty in September and is awaiting sentencing in January before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.
• Thomas Hunt, 31, of the South Side. Hunt worked at Joe’s Crab Shack in Station Square and responded to the FBI’s profile of a 13-year-old girl who lived in Downtown Pittsburgh. He suggested they meet behind the restaurant, smoke pot and then go to her residence for sex, according to the FBI. In October 2021, he arranged for her to walk to Station Square to meet. He was waiting for her there when agents showed up and arrested him. He is set to plead guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Christy Wiegand.
• Brian Turek, 42, of Brookline. Turek responded to an FBI profile of a 13-year-old boy on Grindr, groomed him over several months and was arrested in Dormont in 2019 when he got off the T expecting to meet the child. He told agents he “knew better” than to have sex with a boy but intended to do it anyway. Turek is serving a 105-month sentence in a federal prison in Atlanta.
• Joseph Hamilton, 41, of the North Side. Hamilton was arrested in 2019 near Station Square when he went there to meet a 13-year-old boy for sex whom he met on Grindr. The boy was an agent and the FBI took him into custody when he pulled up in his Chevy for the tryst. Hamilton had a prior sex conviction involving a child and was on state supervision when he committed the federal crime. He is serving 15 years in federal prison.
• Thomas Stultz, 40, of Bellevue. Stultz responded to a profile of a 14-year-old boy on Grindr set up by the FBI and corresponded with him in the winter and spring of 2019. He eventually arranged to meet for sex. The FBI arrested him outside Heinz Field in April 2019. He was sentenced last year to a decade in federal prison.
• Christopher Mills, 38, of Summersville, W.Va. Mills responded in May to an FBI profile of someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl, according to federal prosecutors. He sent her lingerie to wear and then drove in his mother’s car to Pittsburgh on July 5 for sex in an unidentified park, the FBI said. Agents on surveillance there arrested him when he showed up in a Chevy Cruze. He recently asked to be released from jail pending trial, but U.S. District Judge Robert Colville denied the request, saying he’s a danger to the community.
• Vikash Mishra, 40, of Ross. Mishra responded to an FBI profile of a 12-year-old Pittsburgh girl in October 2021. He groomed her over time, the FBI said, and escalated the conversation to sex. He arranged to meet her on Feb. 25, saying he would pick her up at a park near her father’s house in Shaler, according to an affidavit. The FBI arrested him when he arrived. Mishra pleaded guilty last month to attempted receipt of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors. He is in U.S. custody and will be sentenced in March.