A law enforcement officer sent and requested nude photos over Snapchat during conversations with teens he met at a gym in Florida, federal officials say.
The 49-year-old, a former officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted online enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity in December and has now been sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison, the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said in a Sept 27 release.
McClatchy News could not immediately reach his lawyers for comment.
What investigators found
The man, who worked at the sheriff’s office for 17 years before his arrest in June 2022, sent nudes to boys ages 16 to 18 years of age who he met at a gym, according to a sentencing memorandum.
McClatchy News reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
In one case, court documents say he communicated with a 17-year-old who he met at the gym about a year before the investigation began. The teen gave the man his Snapchat thinking he would receive workout tips, he told investigators.
Then the officer began asking the high school student for shirtless photos, federal officials said.
He sent the boy photos and videos showing his genitalia as well as photos of himself in his JSO uniform, in one case writing “you can call me your police daddy”, according to the release.
The teen said he had to change the times he went to the gym to avoid the officer and ignored requests to send shirtless photos, according to the plea agreement.
The investigation began in February 2022 when an employee at the gym contacted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office about one gym member sending a nude photo to a gym member who was a minor, federal officials said.
A Clay County investigator and officer with the Homeland Security Investigations Task Force took over the teen’s Snapchat account to investigate.
The Homeland Security officer acted as the teen and engaged the police officer in conversation on Snapchat. During these conversations in March 2022, the officer sent a nude video and a video in uniform and asked several times for nude videos, officials said.
Investigators said they discovered similar incidents in which the officer sent or requested nudes, according to the sentencing memorandum. In one case, a minor sent him a nude video, the memo says.
He claimed “everything stayed between them and because it was Snapchat, it would disappear”, federal officials wrote in the release.
The man pleaded guilty on Dec 14 and awaited sentencing. Prosecutors said he “has been detained since his arrest on June 6, 2022”.
In letters to the judge, his family and friends lauded his character and asked the judge to consider this when handing down the sentence. The man and his wife had five children together and raised them in the Catholic church, his wife said.
One friend described him as a “a man who without hesitation would give generous gifts to his friends, but also a man who would take my call during my own (troubled) time to listen and advise”. The friend said he is a “man strongly rooted in faith and brought up his family in God’s word, but also clearly struggled with his own demons”.
His lawyers said in the sentencing memo that he never used his position to obtain nude photos or videos. They also discussed his five years in the military, for which he received various recognitions.
The judge sentenced him to 11 years and eight months in prison, which is nearly two years more than the 10-year minimum mandatory sentence his lawyers were asking to reduce.
His prison sentence is to be followed by 15 years of supervised release, prosecutors said.
“Instead of honoring his oath to serve and protect, this former law enforcement officer chose to use his position of trust to exploit the innocence of the very children he was charged with protecting,” said K. Jim Phillips with Homeland Security Investigations.
McClatchy News is not identifying the suspect to protect the identities of the victims. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service