Photo via Riverside County Sheriff's Department
Photo via Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

A Hemet man who posed as a woman on Facebook and solicited women and teenage girls to engage in sex acts for money, including two Indio high school students who went to authorities, is facing a potential life prison term after being found guilty of 60 felonies, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Eliberto Cruz Jacobo is scheduled to be sentenced May 5. Guilty felony counts included human trafficking of a minor, inducing or persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, statutory rape and possession of child pornography, involving seven underage victims.

Jurors deliberated for about one day before returning guilty verdicts on all counts late Monday.

Prosecutors said Jacobo, 46, posed as “Marlissa Garcia” on Facebook and engaged in conversations with numerous women and teenage girls ranging in age from 14 to 31, suggesting they could make money as escorts.

According to Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao, “Marlissa Garcia” would continue to recommend that the victims pursue prostitution, even if they said they were minors.

“There was no miscommunication between `Marlissa Garcia’ and the girls in regards to what they would be doing to make money,” Paixao told the jury. “(Jacobo) actively tried to recruit young minors to engage in prostitution.”

Prosecutors said some of the victims did end up engaging in prostitution with a client known as “Robert,” later identified as Jacobo.

Sheriff’s deputies tracked the messages from “Marlissa Garcia” to an IP address at the defendant’s home, where deputies found photos and videos on his computer of minors engaged in sex acts with Jacobo.

Some of the juveniles also pointed “Robert” out to detectives when shown a photographic lineup of suspects, according to the prosecution.

According to the prosecutor’s trial brief, “Marlissa Garcia” was first brought to the attention of law enforcement in November 2014 by two students at Indio’s Shadow Hills High School following a school presentation on human trafficking. The girls told deputies that “Marlissa Garcia” had worked to recruit them on Facebook for prostitution.

Jacobo was taken into custody in early 2015.

— City News Service 

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