Florida sex offender gets 70 years in federal prison for retail, child porn, drug scheme

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DES MOINES, Iowa - A convicted Orange County sex offender was sentenced to 70 years in federal prison for running a multi-state operation that dealt in retail theft, child pornography, giving drugs to children and witness tampering, the FBI said.

Bradley Prucha, 39, of Ocoee, was convicted in federal court in Iowa, where he had gone to pursue his ex-wife and fight for custody of his son, a release said.

According to the Florida sex offender registry, in 2002, Prucha was convicted in Orange County for lewd or lascivious battery of a child younger than 16.

He was also convicted of a retail theft scheme involving the use of counterfeit UPC bar code stickers, investigators said.

He was released from Florida prison in 2013, the FBI said.

Within a week of relocating to Iowa, Prucha restarted his bar code switching scheme, recruiting his new landlord to help, investigators said.

“He saw that the woman was desperate for money and persuaded her they could both profit from his plan,” FBI Special Agent Kevin Kohler said. “Using specialized software obtained under false pretenses, Prucha printed counterfeit bar codes and, along with his accomplice, went ‘shopping’ in Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska.”

Prucha worked his scheme by printing out the counterfeit UPC stickers and putting them on merchandise so items would ring up at a lower price, the FBI said.

He would then return the items for their full price or sell them online at “a significant profit,” investigators said.

Prucha was required to report to his Florida probation officer monthly and, after recruiting a 15-year-old girl and several of her friends, he would hit stores along the way, the FBI said.

“He provided the girls with the prescription drug Xanax and paid them to have sex with him,” an FBI release said. “On several occasions, he filmed sexually explicit videos of himself with the minors.

“He also threatened them with violence when one girl learned about the videos – taken without her knowledge – and said she was going to call police.”

“For the most part, these were vulnerable teenage girls who didn’t have stable home lives,” Kohler said. “Prucha was able to recruit them by taking them on trips and buying them gifts and pretending to care about them when no one else in their lives did.”

In 2015, at a Barnes & Noble store in Chicago, Prucha’s adult accomplice was arrested trying to make a fraudulent purchase. By that time, the theft ring had stolen so much merchandise from the chain that store security officers were on the lookout.

The FBI was contacted, and the accomplice agreed to cooperate with authorities. She secretly recorded dozens of conversations in which Prucha detailed his criminal activity, including the sexual exploitation of the teenagers.

After his arrest in June 2015, while he was in jail awaiting trial, Prucha offered a fellow prisoner money to contact the girls he had abused and offer to pay them to change their statements.

The inmate instead contacted the FBI.

On March 1, 2016, a jury convicted Prucha on multiple charges; three months later, a judge imposed the 70-year sentence.

“To see the system work and see justice served in a case like this is very satisfying,” Kohler said, adding that Prucha’s lengthy sentence was justified. “There is no doubt in my mind that if he were released from prison, he would re-offend.”

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