News and Press Releases

Brevard County Man Convicted At Trial For Attempting To Entice A Minor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6, 2014

Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, announces that a federal jury found Matthew Steven Howard (26) guilty of attempting to persuade, induce and entice a person he believed to be 14 years of age to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Howard is facing a minimum sentence of 10 years, up to life in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 9, 2014. He was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service until his sentence.

Howard was indicted on February 12, 2014.

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, on December 31, 2013, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Task Force Officer (TFO) noticed a sexually explicit advertisement on Craigslist that made reference to a minor female.  During the time span charged in the Indictment, Howard engaged in communications, via the Internet, with the undercover FBI TFO, who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.  During the online communications, Howard told the “minor” that he wanted to engage her in sexual conduct. 

On January 3, 2014, Howard traveled from his residence in Merritt Island, Florida, to Rockledge, Florida, where he intended to meet the “minor” for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct, at which time he was arrested. During an interview with law enforcement, Howard admitted that he attempted to entice a minor, via the Internet, for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity. Howard had been previously charged with lewd and lascivious battery in the state of Florida.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ilianys Rivera Miranda and Bruce Ambrose.

This case was 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 (CEOS), 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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