Daniel Avetta

Daniel T. Avetta

Daniel T. Avetta posed as a young woman named Jessica Gable to elicit nude photographs from teen boys, then his ruse took a darker turn as he manipulated at least one teen into performing sex acts in exchange for employment.

Avetta, 28, Catawissa, pleaded guilty to 12 felonies in federal court Thursday. He will be sentenced Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District in St. Louis, on four counts of production of child pornography, six counts of receipt of child pornography and two counts of online enticement of a minor.

According to the plea agreement, Avetta would engage in conversation with the victims, mostly 15- and 16-year-old boys, after “friending” them on Facebook as Gables. He would send stock pornographic photos he found on the internet to exchange for nude photographs of the teens.

According to authorities, Avetta would sometimes direct the boys to send specific types of nude photos of themselves.

In at least two cases, Avetta met with boys as a friend of Jessica who was sick and dying.

Avetta could be sentenced to life in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Caretaker

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the crimes in March 2017 after the father of a 16-year-old victim reported that the boy was sexually assaulted by Avetta who offered the teen employment.

The victim told deputies he met “Jessica” through Facebook and began a month-long online relationship. He told authorities he never met her in person and only chatted through Facebook messenger.

Avetta, posing as Jessica, posted an employment ad on Facebook to take care of a sick man for $500 a week. The teen told Jessica he would take the job, which consisted of him taking care of Avetta who was “dying of cancer” in his home.

Avetta and the victim were playing video games when the man told the teen to perform oral sex on him. The teen refused and then messaged Jessica who pleaded with him to do whatever Avetta asked so she — who also was “taking care” of Avetta — would not lose her job.

Avetta was posing as Jessica through messenger as the teen was at his residence.

The defendant and the teen went into an abandoned trailer next door where the boy was sexually assaulted and then went home.

The victim’s father began questioning the teen about his new job. When the teen said he got the job through “Jessica,” his father contacted her through Facebook questioning her about the job. The father then confronted Avetta stating Jessica is not an actual person.

Avetta then stopped messaging the teen.

Authorities Involved

Franklin County Detective James Briggs launched an investigation into the crimes, beginning with a review of Jessica’s Facebook page. He read messages sent to the teen where Jessica promised sex to the boy if he continued to perform sex acts with Avetta.

Briggs searched through past incidents involving Avetta and found a report where a 23-year-old man was tricked into having sex with Avetta who was posing as “Katie and Jessica” on Facebook. The man was told to have sex with Avetta as his “dying wish.”

At the time of the investigation, Avetta was on probation for stealing firearms from his parents in 2014.

Briggs contacted Avetta’s probation officer who showed concern about the man because he recently was assaulted and robbed by two Washington men when they found out Jessica Gable did not exist.

Franklin County authorities served a search warrant at Avetta’s home April 3, 2017, where the man was with an adult male. Avetta gave permission for Briggs to search the home and his electronic devices.

The other man at the residence told Briggs that “Jessica” instructed that he go to Avetta’s home, do whatever he asked, and that she would be there some time later.

More Victims

In other instances Avetta posed as a lung cancer victim who’s last dying wish was to have sex with a man. At least one other teen met with Avetta.

While pretending to be Gables, Avetta received nude photographs from at least 11 boys in Franklin, Gasconade, Maries, Jefferson, St. François, Iron and Washington counties.

Avetta also posed as a woman named “Christy” and chatted with teens, requesting photos and videos.

Authorities seized more than 800 images of child pornography in possession of Avetta, as well as scripts of messages between “Jessica” and boys.