Evans Man Sentenced to Over 11 Years In Prison For
Attempted Online Enticement Of a Minor
AUGUSTA, GA: ERNEST HARVEY SHEPHERD, 58, of Evans, Georgia was sentenced by United States District Court Judge J. Randal Hall on Friday, January 6, 2012 to 130 months in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release for the attempted online enticement of a minor. SHEPHERD, who was remanded to U.S. Marshal custody following the hearing, is also required to register as a sex offender.
United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver said, “This defendant admitted to engaging in inappropriate communications with a female child whom he believed to be 14 years old for the purpose of having illicit sexual conduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office aggressively prosecutes individuals who sexually exploit children. Shepherd’s sentence is an adequate response to those whose predatory acts threaten our children.”
The evidence at SHEPHERD’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings showed that SHEPHERD used various computers and his cellular telephone to attempt to entice a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. The investigation began after parents of a teenaged girl SHEPHERD had befriended on Facebook reported to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office inappropriate communications from SHEPHERD to their daughter. Through further investigation, law enforcement identified over 25 other girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who Shepherd engaged in inappropriate communications with online.
The joint investigation that led to the charge was undertaken by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, agencies making up the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Child Exploitation Task Force. SHEPHERD was arrested on May 27, 2011, after he arrived at a pre-arranged location with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with a person he believe to be a 14-year-old girl, but in fact was an undercover law enforcement officer. He pled guilty in August 2011.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a nationwide U.S. Department of Justice initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Greenwood, Deputy Criminal Chief in the Augusta U.S. Attorney’s Branch Office and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.