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Feds: Navy Pilot Extorted Minors Over Nude Photos

Lt. Daniel Chase Harris

NORFOLK -- A Navy pilot arrested near Roanoke on charges of extorting a 14-year-old girl into sending nude pictures to his cellphone has been moved to Norfolk to face federal charges of committing the same acts with three more minors.

Lt. Daniel Chase Harris, 30, of Virginia Beach is charged with enticing minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The complaint had been under seal until he made an appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Harris had been in jail in Bedford County since November after authorities there charged him with the extortion of the minor, who lives in that county.

The girl told authorities she met Harris on Facebook. He had identified himself as "Steve Crofton" and persuaded her to send him a nude photo of herself, according to the federal complaint.

He then demanded that she send more nude photos or he would post the first one on the Internet, the complaint says.

An undercover investigator assumed the minor's identity and continued communicating with the man identified as Crofton. The complaint says he told the undercover officer that he had made $35,000 by extorting young girls.

Task force agents and Virginia Beach police raided Harris' home and seized a laptop and thumb drive that contained 124 child pornography videos and 108 still images of nude minors, the complaint says.

Harris admitted his conduct and told authorities he also recorded sexually explicit sessions with minor girls on Skype, the complaint says.

Two of the three other girls identified live in Roanoke and the third in Texas, the complaint says.

A bond hearing for Harris is scheduled for May 9 in Norfolk federal court.

Harris, a lieutenant and Naval Academy graduate, was working as a flight instructor at Oceana Naval Air Station at the time of his arrest. The Navy said then that he remained in the service but was not receiving pay.

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