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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



MARCH 23, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


FORMER YOUTH COACH SENTENCED FOR ATTEMPTING

TO ENTICE A MINOR FOR ILLICIT SEX


            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Bradley J. Schlozman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former youth swim coach was sentenced in federal court today for attempting to entice a minor through the Internet to engage in illicit sexual activity.


            Jeffrey M. Vernace, 32, of Valley Park, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this morning to four years and 56 days in federal prison without parole – receiving credit for time served under the mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Vernace was the head coach for the Clayton Shaw Park Swim Club in Clayton, Mo.


            On Oct. 24, 2006, Vernace pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity from Dec. 2, 2004, to Jan. 8, 2005. Vernace, using his screen name Coach13andahalf, contacted a person he believed to be a 13-year-old female in an Internet chatroom. In reality, Schlozman said, Vernace was communicating with an undercover officer with the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department. During the course of these online chats, Vernace attempted to persuade the “girl” to engage in phone sex with him. Vernace also e-mailed photos of unclothed females to persuade her to meet for illegal sexual conduct.


            Vernace arranged to meet at a McDonald’s restaurant in Valley Park, Mo., on Jan. 8, 2005, and was arrested when he arrived.


            This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Phillips. It was investigated by the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html