Federal prosecutors last week charged a North County educator who also coached youth hockey with distributing child pornography, alleging he and two other men, including a Philadelphia-area teacher, solicited sexual images and videos from young boys.
Prosecutors allege some of the victims were boys the men met online and others were boys the two teachers knew personally.
FBI agents arrested Daniel Zachary Dasko, 30, last Wednesday at his Carlsbad residence, according to prosecutors from the San Diego-area U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court, where he pleaded not guilty.
Magistrate Judge Daniel Butcher ordered him detained pending trial.
Prosecutors described Dasko as a teacher’s aide and substitute teacher who also coached hockey to children in elementary and middle school. Online records from Transparent California show Dasko has taught since 2018 as a substitute in at least six elementary school districts in North County.
According to prosecutors, Dasko and two other men posed as girls online to chat with young boys and solicit videos and images of the boys.
According to a criminal complaint, the Philadelphia-area teacher attempted to “bait (his) own middle school students into manufacturing child pornography.”
The complaint alleges Dasko also had conversations about “sexually exploiting children (he) knew or met online,” but does not make clear whether those children were his students or hockey pupils. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say whether any of the alleged victims were children Dasko met through his employment.
Dasko’s attorney did not respond Monday to a voicemail and email seeking comment.
The investigation that led FBI agents to identify Dasko began in 2021 with the teacher from the Philadelphia area and a man from New York, according to the criminal complaint.
Dasko, who allegedly went by “Mr. Pickles” online, and the other teacher provided the New York man with “names and social media accounts for minor males … in hopes that (the New York man) would be able to obtain sexually explicit material from the minors,” according to the complaint.
In chat messages included in the complaint, the man using the “Mr. Pickles” handle asked the Philadelphia teacher if he’d ever “done stuff with younger boys.”
On at least one occasion, according to the complaint, Dasko sent the Philadelphia teacher an explicit image of a boy he met through social media. On another occasion he sent the other teacher an explicit video from a boy “known to (him).”
According to the complaint, Dasko admitted to investigators that he was Mr. Pickles, and investigators seized “numerous devices (that) will be forensically reviewed.”