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WEST PALM BEACH, FL – A Palm Beach County adult who enticed minor girls into sending him sexually explicit pictures of themselves by, among other things, pretending to be a teenager during on-line chats has pled guilty to production, distribution, and possession of child pornography. According to authorities, Dwight Castaldi, 45, of Palm Beach Gardens, pled guilty in federal court in West Palm Beach.
According to court records, beginning in 2008, Castaldi communicated with girls as young as 13 on a social networking website. Castaldi told the girls he was a teenager and sent the victims pictures of an unknown young man, falsely claiming they were pictures of him. During chats, after promising each girl an exclusive relationship, Castaldi convinced the minors to take sexually explicit pictures of themselves and send the images to him. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Castaldi’s Palm Beach County home in 2018. They found several electronic devices containing hundreds of videos and photographs of child exploitation material and evidence of Castaldi communicating with others about it.
Castaldi’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 20, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith. Castaldi faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life. Castaldi recently completed a three-year sentence in California on separate charges for similar conduct of enticing a 13-year-old girl using the internet.
Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of FBI Miami announced the guilty plea. FBI Miami investigated the case, together with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department and Huntington Beach California Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Schiller is prosecuting the case.
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This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about the Project Safe Childhood initiative and for information regarding Internet safety, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
To report online child sexual exploitation, use the electronic Cyber Tip Line or call 1-800-843-5678. The Cyber Tip Line is operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in partnership with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.