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Case Number: 3:19-cr-00208-RGJ
Judge: Rebecca Grady Jennings
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky (Jefferson County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Louisville, Kentucky criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with sexual exploitation of a minor.
Joseph Samir Zakhari, age 34, was convicted on September 24, 2021, of attempted online enticement of a minor, attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, and attempted production of child pornography following a five-day jury trial.
The charges against Zakhari stemmed from the October 2019 joint federal, state, and local online undercover investigation – “Operation Gabbi Doolin.” During the course of the investigation, and while authorized by the Kentucky Attorney General to conduct undercover investigations on the internet, a detective posed as a 15-year-old girl on a social media app with the username “boredcrbgirl.” On October 6, 2019, a person with the username “jzakhari,” later identified as Joseph Samir Zakhari, contacted boredcrbgirl. Zakhari told boredcrbgirl that he was 32 and asked her age. Boredcrbgirl responded that she was 15. A conversation then developed that was made sexual by Zakhari, and, from October 6 until October 8. Zakhari requested details about boredcrbgirl’s sexual history, repeatedly talked about sex acts he wanted to engage in with boredcrbgirl, and asked for sexual images of boredcrbgirl. Zakhari also sent sexually explicit images of himself to boredcrbgirl and requested to meet in person so that the two could engage in sex acts.
On October 8, 2019, Zakhari sent an Uber to pick up boredcrbgirl to bring her to his condominium, with the stated purpose of the trip being for the two to engage in sex acts. Undercover law enforcement officers followed a decoy law enforcement officer in the Uber to the destination specified by Zakhari. Upon arrival, the decoy sent a message at 5:16 p.m., “I’m outside,” to which Zakhari responded “coming down.” The decoy got out of the Uber and stood in front of the provided address. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Samir Zakhari, opened the door and invited her in. Law enforcement officials subsequently arrested Zakhari.
“Online communication apps provide countless opportunities for predators to engage in child exploitation, and stopping these attempts creates a safe online environment for our youngest Kentuckians,” said Attorney General Cameron. “Our Cyber Crimes Unit was glad to partner with U.S. Attorney Bennett’s team, the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Kentucky State Police, and LMPD on this operation, which honors the memory of Gabbi Doolin.”
“Outstanding teamwork by AUSA Lawless, AG Cameron’s office, the USSS, the USMS, KSP, and LMPD,” said U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky. “Working together with our law enforcement partners we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who sexually exploit and abuse our children. The citizens of the Western District deserve nothing less.”
Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Jo E. Lawless prosecuted the case.
The joint investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service (USSS) and Kentucky Attorney General’s Office with assistance from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), United States Marshals Service (USMS), and Kentucky State Police (KSP).
18:2422(b) - ATTEMPTED ONLINE ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR
18:1470 - ATTEMPTED TRANSFER OF OBSCENE MATTER TO A MINOR
18:2251(a) and 2251(e) - ATTEMPTED PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment (concurrent); 3 years S/R; $300 SPA ($100 per convicted count).