COLUMBUS, Ohio – A registered sex offender pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to crimes related to sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl. He faces at least 27 years and up to 42 years in prison under terms of his plea agreement.
Nicholas Salvadore Cochran, 28, of Lima, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking a minor, and one count of committing a sex offense against a minor as a registered as a sex offender.
Cochran was arrested on Aug. 9 as part of Operation Independence Day – a nationwide FBI-led operation to identify and arrest sex traffickers and recover child victims. He has been in custody since his arrest. A federal grand jury indicted him on September 6, 2019.
According to court documents, police began searching for a 14-year-old girl reported missing from Celina, Ohio in July 2019. Family members believed her to be in the Dublin, Ohio area with a man named “Nick.” Local law enforcement and the FBI began investigating information known about her to help locate the missing girl. The investigation included examination of ads posted on websites used for advertising prostitution.
Investigation of the advertisements revealed that between July 9 and July 14, Cochran posted approximately 25 ads for the Lima-Findlay, Dayton and Columbus areas. He posted ads for sex with the child victim daily, and those ads contained nude photographs of the minor.
Allen County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Cochran on a traffic stop in Lima, Ohio on an outstanding failure to appear warrant and seized Cochran’s phone. The victim called her parents from a hotel in Lima and was recovered.
Cochran had been convicted of two counts of sexual battery and one count of attempted sexual battery in Henry County, Ohio in 2009.
The plea agreement requires Cochran to pay full restitution to the victim and others impacted by the crimes, remain under court supervision for the rest of his life, pay a fine determined by the court and pay special assessments of $10,200 if the court finds that he is not indigent. Judge Michael H. Watson will review the plea and set a date for sentencing.
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost; Celina Police Chief Thomas Wale; Allen County Sheriff Matthew B. Treglia; Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler and other members of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force announced the plea entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather A. Hill and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Rausch, Legal Director of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Human Trafficking Initiative represented the United States in this case.