Major In The U.S. Army Reserve, Former Police Officer, Sentenced To Twelve Years For Online Enticement
Tampa, FL - United States District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. sentenced Eric Niels Velez (44, Philadelphia) yesterday to 12 years in federal prison for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor. As part of his sentence, upon his release from prison, Velez is required to serve a 10-year term of supervised release, and register as a sexual offender. He pled guilty on January 30, 2012.
According to court documents, Velez surfed internet chat rooms looking for minors. In August 2010, while stationed in Afghanistan, he initiated contact with an undercover law enforcement officer who was portraying the role of a 14-year-old minor. During this initial contact, Velez asked the purported minor to view his webcam. When she accepted his offer, the screen displayed video of Velez exposing himself and engaging in explicit behavior.
Velez continued to contact the undercover officer for more than six months. During that time he exposed himself on multiple occasions, transmitted numerous videos of himself engaged in explicit behavior, and instructed the purported minor on how to engage in explicit behavior. Velez also routinely asked the "minor" if she had any friends who would like to view his webcam. Consequently, Velez was directed to two other undercover law enforcement officers who were purportedly 10 and 13 years old. He initiated contact with these purported minors on numerous occasions, exposed himself, and instructed them to engage in explicit conduct. Velez engaged in this conduct while stationed overseas in Afghanistan and while at his home in Philadelphia, PA.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacie B. Harris.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."