Convicted Sextortion Perpetrator Linked to San Jose Teen's Suicide Receives Sentence


San Jose, CA — A man involved in a heartbreaking sextortion case that tragically led a San Jose teenager to take his own life was sentenced on Thursday. The case garnered significant attention as it exposed a distressing trend that extends beyond local borders.

Ryan Last, a 17-year-old, sadly died by suicide in 2023 after falling victim to a sinister plot in which an individual threatened to release compromising photos unless a substantial sum of money was paid.

The ensuing investigation not only resulted in an arrest but also shed light on a growing scheme that spans the globe, preying on vulnerable individuals.

Jonathan Kassi, the defendant in this case, received an 18-month jail sentence and an additional 18 months on supervised release.

According to investigators, Kassi and a co-conspirator posed as a teen girl online and sent Last an explicit image, subsequently requesting one in return. When Last complied, the two began a campaign of extortion, threatening to disseminate the compromising photograph to his family and friends unless he paid them $5,000.

As the pressure mounted, the teenager ultimately took his own life in February of 2022, leaving a devastated family and community in his wake.

During the sentencing hearing, Last's mother expressed the profound impact of the tragedy on her family, stating, "It could happen to anyone. I know families, and I've talked to people that knew Ryan's story, and it still happened to them. So we need to continue to have these conversations with our kids."

Kassi is set to be released soon due to time already served. However, during the next year and a half of supervised release, law enforcement will have the authority to conduct searches of all his devices and social media accounts at any time to ensure he does not engage in similar activities targeting others.

Last's mother, while acknowledging the limitations of current laws, stressed the importance of preventing such crimes from happening again, saying, "Of course, I would love more time, but extortion is different when it ends in somebody's life, but of course, there's no laws for that now. So right now, I just want it so he can't do this to anybody else."

Investigations revealed that Kassi was part of a larger financial sextortion scheme based in the Ivory Coast. He had sexually exploited minors online while impersonating a teen girl, using the usernames "Emillysmith" and "Kassijonathan" on social media.

The FBI has noted a disturbing trend in which predators are increasingly using social media platforms to target minors, typically focusing on those aged between 14 and 17 years old.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Marina Mankatyous commended the San Jose Police Department for their efforts, highlighting that this case marked a significant step forward in prosecuting individuals involved in such crimes.

The alarming rise of sextortion is a nationwide concern, with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children receiving over 10,000 sextortion-related reports in the past year alone.

For Last's mother, the future involves dedicating her time to ensuring that no other family experiences a tragedy like theirs. She emphasized, "It devastated us, and we need to turn it around to try and help as many people as we can."