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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


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


APRIL 18, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


FORMER MARSHALL RADIO ANNOUNCER PLEADS GUILTY TO

ATTEMPTING TO ENTICE A MINOR FOR ILLICIT SEX


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Marshall, Mo., radio announcer pleaded guilty in federal court today to using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.


             Ethan D. Handel, 29, of Marshall, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner this morning to the charge contained in a July 19, 2007, federal indictment. Handel, who was a sports and weather announcer for KMMO Radio in Marshall, has been in federal custody since his arrest and will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until his sentencing hearing.


             Handel traveled to Independence, Mo., on July 15, 2007, to meet who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl with whom he had communicated via instant messaging. In reality, the girl was an undercover police officer. Handel initially contacted the undercover officer in an online chat room on June 11, 2007, and continued to communicate with the undercover officer via instant messaging for several weeks, from both his work and home. During some of those online conversations, Handel admitted, he described wanting to engage in illegal sexual activity and eventually made arrangements to travel to the “girl’s” home in order to engage in illegal sexual activity. Handel was arrested when he arrived to meet the “girl” at an Independence address.


            Under federal statutes, Handel could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department.


Project Safe Childhood

            This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.



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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