Updated on May 16, 10 p.m.
A music teacher who founded the Long Island City Academy of Music had a history of soliciting sex from minors and was caught after he attempted to solicit sex from an undercover agent, law enforcement officials said.
According to the U.S. Judge of the Southern District of New York Katherine Parker, Oliver Sohngen used craigslist and frequently exchanged texts with a Bronx man operating a sex trafficking ring to attempt to “engage in commercial sex acts” with girls from the ages of 8 to 17.
This operation was run from a man’s home in the Bronx on Davidson Avenue from March 2013 through November 2013, according to the criminal complaint. Sohngen would negotiate prices through text messages and meet with the girls at a hotel or the man’s home.
In November 2015, an undercover agent working with Homeland Security responded to a craigslist ad posted by Sohngen, who also went by the names of Stephan Weierbach and Helmuth Moss online. The officer exchanged texts with Sohngen until January 2016 and pretended to be a 15-year-old girl.
During the conversations, the officer was able to confirm Sohngen’s identity and prove that he was soliciting sex from a minor. Several victims also recognized his face in pictures and were able to confirm to the agent that he solicited sex from them. Two victims were 17 years old and the third victim was 15.
He is charged with one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, which carries a maximum term of life in prison, as well as two counts of sex trafficking of minors under the age of 18, each which carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; three counts of attempted sex trafficking of minors under the age of 14, each of which carries a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; and two counts of attempted inducement of minors under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity, each of which carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
He is scheduled to appear in court on May 16.
Sohngen was born in Germany and has a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, according to his LinkedIn page. He opened the Long Island City Academy of Music in 2010 where he and other music professionals teach a range of music classes. The academy also partners with schools to put on performances.