CHARLESTON, S.C. (WSPA) – A South Carolina man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after officials said he posed as an officer and extorted a woman for sex and money in an elaborate scheme.
Brian Lydell Robinson, 39, of Warrenville, pled guilty to impersonating an officer and extortion. He used a dating app to solicit sex and money from a Myrtle Beach woman beginning in 2019, officials said.
Robinson posed as a DOJ investigator working on a sex trafficking case, and he threatened to prosecute the woman for prostitution unless she helped with the investigation.
The woman was told she had to assist “in an undercover operation against the sex trafficker who was, in fact, Robinson. In truth there was no investigation, and Robinson extorted money and sex from his victim by posing as the sex trafficker under investigation, the investigator, and a defense lawyer,” the DOJ added.
As part of the scheme, Robinson confronted the victim posing as the sex trafficker and told her he knew she was helping law enforcement, but that he also knew of a way to get them out of trouble. That’s when he allegedly called an attorney, and then “the victim was contacted by the fictitious federal agent, who claimed that his case had been temporarily suspended because of Robinson’s attorney.”
According to officials, over the next seven months Robinson extorted the woman for money to pay for the fake legal fees as she was led to believe that was necessary to avoid prosecution. After she ran out of money, Robinson then extorted her for sex in lieu of money. “The victim went to the police after Robinson demanded that she have sex with multiple men at the same time, and she became fearful that she would be abducted,” the DOJ said.
Robinson was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison to be followed by three years of court supervision.
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and the Mount Pleasant Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Schoen and Elliott B. Daniels prosecuted the case.
The following are statements from the SLED, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Homeland Security:
“The Defendant terrorized and exploited his victim through extreme deception and intimidation, and he deserves to go to prison,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “We will not tolerate predators posing as law enforcement officers. Those who impersonate federal agents, or use the threat of federal prosecution, to exploit the public will encounter actual federal agents and real prosecution. If you have a question about whether a person is actually a law enforcement officer, call the agency using a publicly posted phone number and ask for verification.”
“Stopping those who pose as law enforcement to commit crimes is of utmost importance to law enforcement and the community,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ronnie Martinez, who oversees HSI operations in North Carolina and South Carolina. “This sentencing should send a clear message that we are on the hunt for these impostors.”’
“Impersonating an officer threatens the trust and respect law enforcement professionals work to earn every day serving our communities,” said South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel. “SLED is proud to support the DOJ and HSI in investigations like these to ensure those who seek to prey upon our fellow citizens face the consequences.”