Using the name "Hannah Montana," an Omaha madam emailed racy photos of two girls to the Yahoo account that Ed Kosiski later admitted using.
"The one Jamie in black is younger," the email read. "The one in red is a year older, 14-15."
Within hours of that 8:27 p.m. email, prosecutors say, Ed Kosiski showed up at the midtown apartment where he was known to meet prostitutes.
There, prosecutor Shelly Stratman said, Kosiski — co-owner of I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Neb. — paid to have sex with a Bellevue runaway who was 15.
Kosiski is the second of three racing Kosiski brothers and the son of local racing legend Bob Kosiski. In 1998, Ed Kosiski earned $133,500 as the nation's top short-track racer.
Tuesday, after a plea bargain with prosecutors, Kosiski pleaded no contest to attempted sexual assault of a child — a felony that will require Kosiski to register as a sex offender.
Kosiski, 46, faces from one to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in December. Had he been convicted of the more serious charge of sexually assaulting a child, he would have faced a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.
Kosiski, who has four children, entered the plea with his wife, Trisha, and parents sitting behind him in court.
They listened as Stratman detailed a sordid tale of a teenage runaway who says she met up with Kosiski at the place prosecutors say he rented to act out his encounters: an apartment in the 3400 block of Poppleton Avenue.
Kosiski is the second john and the sixth person convicted in connection with the Project Innocence Lost investigation, a federal probe that broke up a prostitution ring involving underage girls in Omaha and Council Bluffs. Under state law, it is illegal for anyone 19 or older to have sex with anyone 15 or younger.
Prosecutor Stratman said the amended charge includes the word "attempted" only because of the plea bargain. Stratman said the teenaged girl, who watched Tuesday from the courtroom gallery, would have testified that Kosiski had sex with her on Jan. 1, 2010 — a contention that Kosiski denies.
Stratman said prosecutors offered the plea deal to Kosiski in order to spare the girl from having to relive a "horrible ordeal."
In laying out her case to the judge, Stratman said she would have been able to show that Kosiski often prodded the madame, Meredith Crane-Horton, to be set up with younger prostitutes.
Two prostitutes testified at a hearing last month that they told Kosiski they were 18 during the encounters.
But Kosiski — who went by the name Tim Taylor, after the character on Home Improvement — would pay them an additional $200 for leads to "dates," asking them to find him any "younger people, younger boys, younger girls, as well as a request for a transvestite," Stratman said.
Kosiski's attorney, Glenn Shapiro, said his client disputes the prostitutes' version.
"They have credibility issues by the nature of the business they're in," Shapiro said. "There's not a lot of honesty and integrity in that line of work."
Further, Shapiro said, Kosiski denies that he had sex with the 15-year-old girl in question. A few friends would have testified that, as far as they knew, Kosiski was with them that New Year's night, Shapiro said.
However, Shapiro said, Kosiski pleaded to the lesser charge because there was "enough of a paper trail" in the chat rooms to prove an attempt to have sex with a child.
"Part of the problem is the anonymity of the Internet sometimes brings out the worst in people," Shapiro said. "Sometimes people just engage in pure fantasy, saying and doing things that they would never do under normal circumstances."
Stratman said it was much more than fantasy with Kosiski.
Omaha Police Detective Amber Schlote had uncovered more than 600 sexually explicit chats involving Kosiski's user name — three-fourths of which came from the computer at his family's Omaha auto parts store.
His contact with Meredith Crane-Horton and her prostitution ring dated back to at least 2007, Stratman said.
Kosiski spent at least $3,000 on the ring — and provided much of the rent for the Poppleton apartment, Stratman said.
Federal officials homed in on the prostitution ring in 2009. At one point, FBI Agent Anna Brewer asked a prostitute if she knew of anyone "who specifically targeted children or young people for acts of prostitution."
"Yes, there's a guy I know who goes by Tim Taylor," the prostitute told Brewer.
Shown a photo lineup later, she identified Kosiski as that guy. The 15-year-old girl also identified Kosiski out of a photo lineup. She would have testified that he grabbed her head and shoved it down, causing a cut on her lip, Stratman said.
Kosiski told the judge he is suffering from depression and has told investigators in this case that he was sexually assaulted five years ago by a man at a rest stop between Omaha and Sioux City. He said he did not report the assault at the time because he was embarrassed.
Shapiro said his client ran several youth racing programs through his family's racetrack.
"Dozens of people involved in the racing community and youth programs will testify to his character," he said. "They will tell the judge they never have had any concerns with him involved in these youth activities."
Stratman said the girls were credible — and their accounts were buttressed by Kosiski's own words in the chat rooms. The prosecutor said she will ask for a significant sentence for Kosiski.
"Prostitution rings like this wouldn't exist if there wasn't a demand from people like Ed Kosiski," Stratman said.
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