ACSOL’s Conference Calls

Conference Call Recordings Online
Dial-in number: 1-712-770-8055, Conference Code: 983459

Monthly Meetings [details]
November 2018 Call Audio
, 12/08 – San Diego

Emotional Support Group: (Los Angeles) 11/24, 12/22 [details]

Registration Laws for all 50 States

California

CA: All of Mugshots.com’s alleged co-owners arrested on extortion charges

[UPDATED LINKS 5/20/18] [arstechnica.com 5/17/18]

Two alleged owners of Mugshots.com—Sahar Sarid and Thomas Keesee—have been arrested in south Florida on a recently issued California warrant. The notorious website publishes mugshots and then demands payment for their removal.

On Wednesday, the attorney general of California brought criminal charges against not only Sarid and Keesee, but also Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie and David Usdan. The quartet has been charged with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft.

Bhavnanie was arraigned by a Pennsylvania state judge also on Wednesday—his bail was reportedly set at $1.86 million. According to Tania Mercado, a spokeswoman for the California Attorney General’s office, Usdan is also in custody.

“This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation,” said Attorney General Becerra in a statement. “Those who can’t afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple.”

Read more

Related links:

California Charges Mugshots.com Owners . . . Then Releases Their Mugshots [jonathanturley.org 5/20/18]

 

Join the discussion

  1. Lake County

    Welcome to California. I hope you get to stay here for a long time. We have plenty of room for you at Hotel San Quentin. I’m sure all the other San Quentin guests who’s photos you’ve published will take good care of you.

    • Bill

      The irony is it wont matter what joint they go to and what P.C. yard they end up on they will see seriouse pay back.

      • Lake County

        Even if the AG doesn’t win against them, maybe they will think about the potential of what it would be like to get locked up with with no protection from all the people who’s photos they’ve published. I bet they would be treated worse than sex offenders since their website hurts everyone of them and their families when they can’t find employment. Karma!

  2. Nicholas Maietta

    THEY DID NOT ARREST EVERYONE WHO OWNS OR OPERATES THE WEBSITE.

    A couple days ago I contacted the unpublishing service to ask that my information be removed free of charge. Long story short, I got the typical threats. Prior to that phone call, my information had been out of date going back to 2011. After the phone call, it was updated to my current information.

    I believe my phone call triggered the person on the other end of the line who threatened me, to actually go through with modifying my profile page. This person was behind the phone number listed for UNPUBLISHING/DE-LISTING information.

    I believe I know the identify of that person. I have his personal landline number as a result of a foobar on the part of their phone system.

    • AJ

      @Nicholas Maietta:
      AG Becerra may well be interested in what you know and experienced. Were it me, I’d be contacting his office.

    • Tim l

      Nicholss,

      FUBAR is the correct acronym.

      Fu%&ed
      Up
      Beyond
      All
      Recognition

      The term fully applies to our corrections systems.

  3. kind of living

    what are they going to do to them ? send them to a golf course for a vacation , if we are lucky they will hit them with a fat fine that hurts just enough to make other companies stop posting our info , that would help a lot , because most don’t even use the state Top Hit list of shame they use home facts and a feed sack full of others .

  4. Agamemnon

    Something everybody is missing from this story is how the CA AG is filing criminal charges against people for humiliating American citizens and hindering their lives – their abilty to find employment, housing, even relationships – by publicly listing their past transgressions.

    If such activities are illegal based on how debilitating they can be to a person’s life, then this case should be paramount in future challenges to the registry in a court of law.

    • CR

      It’s possible, even likely, that the CA AG sees no conflict here between what the mugshot sites do to non-sex offenders, and what the state, all states, do to us. They have continually argued that we are different, unlike other offenders. Because “frightening and high”, you know. As David K said, ours is the crimen exceptum.

    • @Agamemnon & @CR

      For many, it is their alleged transgressions because for whatever reason, they are not convicted, but their mugshots are still available through the arrest record.

      For others who’s records are expunged (non-sexual offenses here) or sealed, their arrest records and mugshots are still available.

      Instead of the state actually sealing arrest records of those not convicted or expunging records with sealed arrest records, they are going after the folks who extort money from those folks instead. The state is not doing anything any different except not making a lot of money off any attempts to seal arrest records, which is possible, upon request. Granted there is the seven year background check timeline, but until that time, any arrest record with mugshot or expunged record with arrest record is still out there. Is it not?

      Is there not a fee and application to request arrest and expunged records be sealed? If so, shouldn’t the state be held accountable for similar action under similar pretenses? Shouldn’t folks be going for sealing arrest records with mugshots so these owners could not scrape the public data and publish it?

      This is just food for thought.

      I’m all for throwing these folks in the pokey where their new friends might welcome them with open arms (not).

      • CR

        “For many, it is their alleged transgressions because for whatever reason, they are not convicted, but their mugshots are still available through the arrest record.

        For others who’s records are expunged (non-sexual offenses here) or sealed, their arrest records and mugshots are still available.”

        Those are very good points. And another point that I feel is important is that the state is charging the owner/operators of the site with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft. I’m not sure what supports the last two charges, but the extortion aspect is clear. Those are crimes, and the state doesn’t want them to get away with it.

        If the mugshots site weren’t charging for removal of listings, I very much doubt the state would go after them. They aren’t going after Homefacts, are they?

        • TS

          @CR

          No, they aren’t. They merely repeat public info and photo.

    • Agamemnon

      While the crime that was committed was extorting money for removal, the perpetrators were able to blackmail their victims through humiliation and opression.

      Now what if CA (or the Federal Government) charged a fee to remove yourself from Megan’s Law? Yes, that would be a crime too. And yeah, I know they don’t offer removal. My point is the list engineers humiliation and oppression.

      So if the state of CA prosecutes individuals based on the fact that a publicly listing humiliates and opresses (punishment), then that should be used to hold the sex offender registry accountable.

      • CR

        The state isn’t prosecuting the mugshots owners “… based on the fact that a publicly listing humiliates and opresses (punishment) …” The charges are extortion, identity theft, and money laundering. None of those apply to the state’s administration of the registry web site.

        Also, just because disclosure and dissemination of public information may result in humiliation doesn’t mean that it is illegal or constitutes punishment.

  5. Nicholas Maietta

    To the team at ACSOL, please share this video from the California’s Dept of Justice on this matter. They are encouraging ANYONE who’s mugshot was taken in California and appears on the Mugshots com to contact the US Dept of Justice’s crimes center via email.

    Website owners Sahar Sarid, Thomas Keesee and Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie are being charged with 51 counts conspiracy, extortion, attempted extortion, identity theft and money laundering. The 4th person is David Usdan. He is charged with 7 counts of conspiracy, extortion and identity theft.

    They are all being extradited to California and I have alerts for 2 of them from the VINELink website. 3 of the individuals show up in the VINELink system which helps you located where they are.

    Here is the complaint: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4465207/MUGSHOT-FILED-ARREST-WARRANT-Redacted.pdf

    Even though the document is HEAVILY redacted, I have nearly all of the information that has been redacted.

  6. Celtic

    Yet the site remains active with posts as recent as 5/18.

  7. Counting the days

    If they are immigrants or here on work/student visas( and the names suggest that) then they will be deported after serving what ever sentence they get.

  8. The Static-99R Is A Scam

    So the government will prosecute a private business (Mugshots.com) for extortion. But yet government will do much worse when they operate the Megan’s Law website, require sex offender registration, shame a person through a passport marking, impose residential and presence restrictions, conduct dubious “compliance checks,” deny occupational licencing and Section 8 housing benefits… the list goes on…

    Maybe the government should prosecute itself for committing much WORSE crimes than those they seek to bring to “justice.”

    • The Static-99R Is A Scam

      Oh the irony: Both in the website operators’ mugshots being posted, as well as CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra taking the hypocritical claim of standing up for offenders:

      “This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation,” said Becerra. “Those who can’t afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple.”

      Remember, this is the same AG that fights to keep Megan’s Law, the same AG that advocates for “risk based” registration based off dubious (Static-99R) “science,” and the same AG that advocates for sex offender registration when there is no evidence that registration is effective for anyone (as it inhibits reintegration, employment, and housing).

      About 95% of sex crimes were committed by first-time offenders. Sex offender registration is a false sense of security.

      • Mike s

        I struggle to see the difference between paying website owners to remove my info and likeness and paying a lawyer to fight them in court. I think the primary difference is that paying the website owner is cheaper and guarantees a favorable result.

        I’m waiting for some of these states to go after all these bottom feeding SO websites that profit off of our likeness without wetting the peaks of the actual product that they profit.

        I’ve fought all of them after being removed from the PA registry with one, the one in Nevada that we all know about, refusing to take my info down.

        In fact, after my lawyer went head to head with them, my profile ended up higher in google and now my picture is first on google imagines when my entire name is entered. I’m going through the process now to have my middle name changed and moving from the address that I’ve lived for the entire 12 years on the registry.

        Fight on brothers!!

  9. CA

    Guess what everyone now “Instant Checkmate.com” has us up on the internet!
    Even those of us whom are not on Megan’s Law!
    Janice or anybody can we stop this madness of these sites posting our info!!!!!!!

    • steve

      Another FOR PROFIT site using our likeness for profit f-them.

    • steve

      Why aren’t there civil lawsuits against these companies who are reposting this info illegally and it even says so on the Megan’s law website?!???!?!

  10. Sunny

    It appears mugshots.com has gone down. It is has been down the entire day today (5/30), producing nothing more than a 503 HTTP Error. I filed a complaint against them with their webhost, Amazon AWS, last week, ensuring to inform Amazon that the State of California has issued indictments against the owners of the site, which has been used for criminal activity. Lets hope it stays down. Perhaps the government will seize the domain, ensuring it can never be used again.

    • TS

      Need some way to have Amazon drug into this in greater detail since they are a web host of this crap.

      • AJ

        @TS, et al:
        Need some way to have Amazon drug into this in greater detail since they are a web host of this crap.
        —–
        I don’t know that AWS as a corporate entity will give a crap, but an appeal to Mr. Bezos may have some effect. If it could be (properly) painted as being shaming/predatory and not merely sharing public info, it may take hold. Or perhaps detailing how it holds people back, especially poor and minorities, it could maybe have some effect. Were anyone to write, I would caution against mentioning the RC angle, instead writing as a citizen concerned about social justice.

    • Tired of this

      Still up as of now (5/31/18).

  11. TS

    I’d add a financial gain angle on it. Those folks @AJ mentioned have money to spend. Jeff Bezos would want them to spend it at Amazon.

  12. Not Really

    This last sentence could be very important in other types of cases:

    “But once the case is resolved the evidence that they have collected will be available to use by the other affected people around the country.”

    • CR

      Are you suggesting that the evidence to be presented by the government in going after these creeps on criminal charges of extortion could be useful to us in showing how the public registry information harms or punishes registrants? Or did you have something else in mind?

      We’ll have to wait and see what evidence the government presents. I’m not so hopeful.

      The CA AG said “Those who can’t afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple.” That is nice campaign-building media fodder, and we all know that it is true, but there is no reason that it need be said in court. He only has to prove that the owners of mugshots broke the law. He doesn’t have to justify or defend the law, only prove the charges.

      There is a difference in simply publicly posting criminal arrest and conviction information that is already a public record, and extorting money from someone to have the public information removed from prominent display on the internet. The former is not illegal, whereas the latter is. Were it not for the Mugshots site doing the latter, the AG could not charge them with extortion. (I’m ignoring the other charges because I don’t think they relate to registrants in any way.)

Leave a Reply

We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...  
  • Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  • Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  • Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  • Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  • Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  • We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address.
  • Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  • Please do not post in all Caps.
  • If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links.
  • We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  • We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  • Please choose a user name that does not contain links to other web sites
  • Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  
 

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer this question to prove that you are not a robot *