WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Deputies across Florida nabbed more than a dozen suspects in an undercover, under-age sex sting over the past week.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd released details regarding the sting Tuesday morning, saying a total of 18 suspects were busted between Tuesday, March 29 and Monday, April 4. A nineteenth suspect was arrested Tuesday.
According to the sheriff, undercover deputies posted several fake ads and profiles on social media and other websites, posing as children or parents of children who were offering up sex with minors.
Detectives say some of the men who responded thought they were making arrangements to have sex with children as young as 10 and 13 years of age.
Some of the men sent pornographic images of themselves, and others asked that nude pictures of the children be sent their way.
They were arrested, deputies say, when the men showed up to the designated meeting spot to “follow through with the promises made online to engage in sexual activity with the juveniles.”
Half of them had condoms on them; several of them brought candy, and deputies say some even brought narcotics.
The arrested are as follows, according to the sheriff's office:
- Brantley Ashton Thompson, 24, of Auburndale, FL. Detectives issued a warrant for his arrest after they say he chatted with two different undercover detectives, both of whom he believed to be 14-year-old girls, and sent photos of his genitals.
- Christopher John Smith, a 22-year-old lawn care worker out of Deltona, FL. Deputies say he showed up to the undercover location to “show or teach sex acts” to who he believed was a 13-year-old girl. He later told deputies “this was a stupid decision.”
- Arthur Joseph Nelson, a 19-year-old Discovery Cove janitor out of Orlando, FL. Deputies say he arrived under the impression that he’d be having sex with a 14-year-old girl after he sent pictures of his genitals online. He reportedly told investigators this was his first time and that he was “high” and “horny” and “thought it seemed like a good idea.”
- Jeffrey Erich Binder, a 26-year-old Walt Disney World security guard who lives in Winter Garden, FL. Deputies say he also thought he’d be doing “everything” sexual with a 14-year-old girl when he arrived. He reportedly said, "Now I gotta tell my work and family that I got arrested for soliciting a 14-year-old for sex."
- Michael Fernandez, a 21-year-old car-washer from Ocoee, FL. According to investigators, he believed the undercover detective he was talking to was actually the father of a 10-year-old girl. He said ahead of time that he “likes ‘em young”, and disclosed that he has an 8-year-old sister but “[hasn't] done nothing yet."
- Michael Dean Thompson, a Publix employee out of Ponte Vedra. Deputies say he arranged to “make sure” a 14-year-old girl’s “first time was the best.” He claimed he was 18 in their online conversations, despite the fact that he is actually 20.
- Jerin Jolly James, a 28-year-old Florida Hospital technician out of Celebration, FL. He arranged to have sex with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl, brought condoms to the meeting place and reportedly told deputies he lied to his wife and said he was running to 7-Eleven.
- Alejandro Pineda, a 26-year-old construction worker out of Haines City. Detectives he also believed he’d be having sex with a 14-year-old girl, and later told them he was embarrassed.
- Howard Bishop III, 60, of Lake Alfred, FL. Bishop reportedly believed he was talking with a 10-year-old’s father when he said he was "very much into nudism and quality family fun”, and added that he was “very open minded and up for anything."
- Robert Michael Gordon, a 22-year-old football coach at Central Florida Christian Academy and a produce clerk at Publix. Deputies say he planned to have sex with a 14-year-old.
- Mahesh Radhakrishnan, a 32-year-old computer program director out of Lake Mary, FL. Deputies say he had specific requests of the 14-year-old who he believed he’d be having sex with. He wanted her to shower and have her hair wet. Since she was too young, he added, he offered to pick her up and take her to a hotel or his house.
- Preston Lee Bousquet, 28, of Daytona Beach, FL. Detectives say he offered to teach a 14-year-old various sexual positions.
- Tyler James Knight, 26, of Davenport, FL. According to detectives, he arranged to have sex with a 14-year-old boy, and asked “him” to sneak out to meet him once his parents had fallen asleep.
- Pedro Emilio Portillo, a 24-year-old manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka, FL. He was arrested after he arrived to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.
- Samuel Orlin Hightower, 22. Deputies say he had cocaine and a hallucinogen on him when he showed up to a Cracker Barrel to meet a 13-year-old boy for sex. The sheriff's office initially said he was an Alaska Airlines employee, but the airline has since said that report was false.
- Joshua Dean Southerland, 19, of Davenport, FL. Deputies arrested him for arranging to have sex with a 12-year-old girl.
- Larry Alfred Treharn, Jr., 33 of Naples, FL. He showed up for sex with a 14-year-old girl after deputies say he chatted with several undercover officers’ personas online. His prior arrest record includes attempted first degree murder charges and arson.
- Keith Hartford Ingles, a 59-year-old former Polk County firefighter, of Lakeland. Deputies say he believed he’d been chatting with a 14-year-old girl since January of this year, and was arrested after arriving to meet her for sex.