Fil-Am in Chicago porno case to face trial in May

A Filipino American embroiled in a child pornography case in Chicago will face trial on May 12, 2008, after failing to make a plea at the status hearing of his case last week.

A report on The Filipino Express Online said that US district judge Ronald A. Guzman of the Northern Illinois, Chicago, had ordered Michael Macalindong, a 24- year-old mortgage broker, to face trial.

Macalindong’s lawyer Helen Kim of the federal defender’s program reportedly refused to give a comment on the judge’s order.

Mark E. Schneider, assistant attorney for the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, said that the accused could still make a plea on or before May 12.

At the status hearing of his case on Oct. 19, 2007, the accused asked Judge Guzman to give him until Nov. 27, 2007 to decide whether to make a plea or to face trial, the report said.

The accused reportedly waived his appearance during the pre-trial hearing on Sept. 12, 2007 to avoid the two-hour long trip from his detention cell at Ozaukee County Justice Center in Wisconsin to the Chicago district court.

One of three children of a Filipino couple from Cavite in the Philippines, the US-born Macalindong is believed to be the first person to use the social networking website facebook.com to prey on minors, the report said.

During his arraignment last June 12, Macalindong, a US citizen and resident of suburban Fox Lake, Lake County, Illinois, pleaded not guilty to taking sexually explicit photographs and video of at least three minors.

Authorities say that the accused, posing as a teenage girl on facebook.com, lured a 15-year-old boy from suburban Evanston, Illinois, to his home for sex last year.

The incident was believed to be the first accusation that the facebook website was used to contact a minor for predatory reasons.

Facebook is a social networking made up of 47,000 networks – individual schools, companies or regions – that are independent and closed to non-affiliated users.

According to the report, the accused (posing as a girl) told the boy that to have sex with her, he had to have sex with her male friend and have it taped so she could watch. Macalindong was the male friend in the ruse.

According to the report, the accused “hijacked” the account of a female high school student in early 2006.

Macalindong is being held without bond at Ozaukee County Justice Center in Wisconsin. If convicted, he would face a statutory maximum penalty of a life imprisonment and possible restitution.

GMANews.TV

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