Sex offender who preyed on Hidalgo County teenagers pleads guilty
A sex offender who targeted Hidalgo County teenagers on Facebook pleaded guilty Wednesday.
Michael Tienping Tang, 30, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon, when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa at the federal courthouse in McAllen.
After nearly two years in jail, Tang struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to four counts of sexually exploiting children. In exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas agreed to drop two other charges against him.
“Yes, sir,” Tang said, when asked whether or not he understood the charges and wanted to plead guilty.
Attorney Charles A. Banker III, who represents Tang, declined to comment after the hearing.
Federal agents started investigating Tang in May 2017, when an administrator at Juarez-Lincoln High School contacted them with troubling information.
Someone had created a Facebook account under the name “Roxanna Scarlett” and started contacting teenagers.
Two teenagers — a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl — accepted a friend request from Roxanna Scarlett, according to federal court records. After they accepted the friend request, Roxanna Scarlett asked them for sexually explicit photos and videos.
The teenagers sent the photos and videos to Roxanna Scarlett.
“Shortly after, Minor Victims 1 and 2 blocked ‘Roxanna Scarlett’ from their Facebook accounts and ‘Roxanna Scarlett’ began reaching out to the Facebook friends of Minor Victims 1 and 2 in an attempt to get unblocked,” according to federal court records. “Minor Victim 2 stated that another Facebook user named ‘Mike Boss’ claimed to have received photos of her from ‘Roxanna Scarlett.’”
Afraid that Roxanna Scarlett would share the sexually explicit photos and videos, the teenagers unblocked the account.
Roxanna Scarlett demanded the teenagers send more sexually explicit videos. If the teenagers refused, Roxanna Scarlett threatened to contact their friends and family members.
“In response to the threats made by ‘Roxanna Scarlett’, Minor Victim 1 and Minor Victim 2 engaged in various sexual acts with each other,” according to federal court records. “These acts of sexually explicit conduct were video recorded and delivered to ‘Roxanna Scarlett’ via Facebook.”
Roxanna Scarlett also contacted a 13-year-old boy and asked the boy to sexually assault his 10-year-old sister.
Federal agents requested information from Facebook, which revealed that Tang controlled the Roxanna Scarlett and Mike Boss accounts.
“The results of the Facebook warrant also reveal that the ‘Roxanna Scarlett’ profile reached out to over fifty minor victims on Facebook in an attempt to persuade them into sending child pornographic photos and/or videos of themselves,” according to federal court records. “Several of these minor victims succumbed to ‘Roxanna Scarlett’s’ requests and produced images and/or videos of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct and then sent these depictions to ‘Roxanna Scarlett.’”
Tang had a history of preying on children.
In October 2012, he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, according to Virginia State Police records, which list him as a violent sex offender.
Tang faces 25 to 50 years in federal prison on each of the four charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1.