A former chief executive officer of an Irvine-based publicly traded online video advertising company was convicted Monday of sexually assaulting two boys and sending them pornography.
Jurors began deliberations Monday afternoon in the case against Qayed Murtaza Shareef and reached verdicts at the end of the day. Shareef was convicted of 30 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and single counts each of using an underage person for obscene matter and sending pornography to a minor, all felonies.
Jurors at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana also found true sentencing enhancements for substantial sexual conduct and committing lewd acts with multiple children.
Shareef, 43, of Aliso Viejo, faces at least 15 years to life in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Heidi Garrel.
Shareef met the two victims through the Tango Me application, according to a trial brief from prosecutors.
Shareef posed as Jeremy Stevens and persuaded two young boys to make sexually explicit videos, which their mother discovered in December 2013, prompting her to alert authorities in Virginia where the victims resided, according to prosecutors. The FBI became involved in the investigation and traced the IP address back to the defendant in Aliso Viejo, according to prosecutors.
As authorities conducted a search of his residence he told them during a nearly two-hour interview in his garage that he himself had been the victim of sexual abuse as a child, prosecutors said.
Shareef engaged in sexually explicit conversations with a 10-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy through the Tango Me app between Dec. 25-29, 2013, prosecutors said.
Like a movie director, Shareef instructed the boys on what sex acts he wanted them to perform with each other while photographing and videotaping them with a tablet they were using, prosecutors said. The boys would then send the pornographic images of themselves to Shareef, prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, Shareef performed sex acts on himself and recorded them to send to the boys to guide them on what he wanted them to do, prosecutors said. Shareef also sent the boys adult pornography, prosecutors said.
Shareef’s initial attorney, Ricardo Nicol, issued a statement when his client was arrested in January 2015 saying he was born in Afghanistan and as a child he and his family “experienced first hand the horrors and trauma of war following the Soviet invasion.”
Shareef was a child refugee in India and arrived in the United States when he was 11 with his mother and brother while his father remained in Afghanistan as a “freedom fighter,” Nicol said.
Shareef’s current attorney, Kim Santini, asked Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Robison to allow her client to remain free on $1 million bail while she pursues an appeal.
“My client has been out of custody for five years now with no new arrests,” Santini said. “He has a family and a career he has to get in order.”
Garrel told Robison that Shareef represents a “danger to the community” and should be locked up right away.
Robison denied the request and had the founder and former CEO of Adaptive Media taken into custody.
Shareef told the judge, “My prayer time is almost up” as he requested a moment to pray. He was told he could pray while awaiting a transfer to jail Monday evening.
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