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Police say Cortland man used blackmail, created child porn

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 4:05 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 11:33 p.m. CST

Authorities say they were investigating allegations that a Cortland man blackmailed a woman into making a pornographic movie for him when they also discovered he had made child pornography.

Thomas A. Holbrook, of the 100 block of West Benson Avenue in Cortland, is accused of convicing a DeKalb County teenage girl to allow him to record a pornographic video of her, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said. Holbrook was charged this week with three counts of child pornography, the more serious two which are punishable with between six and 30 years in prison.

Holbrook likely won't be arrested on those charges until a criminal case against him in Kansas is resolved.

In June, a woman in Dodge City, Kan., told police there that she was being stalked by a man she met through an online dating service while she attended college in Illinois, said Michael Robbins, a detective with the Dodge City Police Department.

Through his investigation, Robbins said he learned that Holbrook had created fake online identities to interact with the woman, who had ended romantic relationship with Holbrook after two dates. The woman moved back to Dodge City in May 2012.

Using one of his fake identities, Holbrook convinced the woman to send nude photographs of herself to him. He later threatened to email those photographs to her mother's business contacts unless she created a porn video of herself and her fiancé for him, Robbins said. The woman complied.

Holbrook also contacted the fiancé, encouraging him to end their relationship and offering to send him nude photographs of the woman, Robbins said. Holbrook offered to make one of the alternate identities go away forever if the fiancé did something for him, Robbins said.

Ultimately, Robbins learned that all these online personalities were using the same IP address from DeKalb County. One of the alternate personalities was soliciting teenage girls in DeKalb County, Robbins said.

In Kansas, Holbrook was charged with blackmail, harassment of a victim or witness, stalking, computer crimes, harassment by telephone and making false information, Dodge City Deputy Police Chief Drew Francis said.

Cortland police arrested Holbrook about 11 p.m. on Feb. 10 in connection with the criminal case in Kansas, and DeKalb County sheriff's police searched his home in Cortland the next day, Dumdie said. Holbrook was charged in connection with one video, but DeKalb County authorities are continuing their investigation to see if there are more images and victims.

"These were just preliminary reviews of electronic media," Dumdie said. "They will be sent off for a more thorough investigation to see if there are others there."

Holbrook is being held in Kansas. If he bailed out of jail there, he would be arrested again and would have to post 10 percent of the $250,000 bond in the DeKalb County charges to be freed while the cases are pending, Dumdie said.

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