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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


AUGUST 21, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


FORMER STATE FIRE INVESTIGATOR PLEADS GUILTY

TO ENTICING A MINOR FOR ILLICIT SEX


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


            Lee E. Johnson, 49, of Warrensburg, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to the charge contained in a Feb. 27, 2008, federal indictment. Johnson was a fire investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Missouri Department of Public Safety.


            Johnson admitted that he engaged in an online chat with an undercover law enforcement officer, who identified himself as a 13-year-old girl, on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008. Johnson, believing that the images were being transferred to a 13-year-old girl, masturbated in front of his Web camera during that chat and again on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. Johnson also held a black firearm up in front of the Web camera that he said was a Glock, adding that he had three handguns in his residence.


            By pleading guilty today, Johnson agreed to forfeit to the government two laptop computers, a Web camera and two thumb drives that were used to commit the offense.


            Johnson was arrested by Independence, Mo., police officers in front of his residence on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, after being followed from the Warrensburg high school, where he had been watching a freshman girls basketball game alone. (Freshman girls are generally 14 years old.) Police officers approached his vehicle, placed him at gunpoint and ordered him to put up his hands. Johnson initially complied and put his hands up, but soon began lowering his right hand down toward his side out of view as if he might be reaching for a weapon. Johnson was pulled out of the vehicle and handcuffed behind his back, and a loaded Glock handgun was recovered from the back of his waistband.


            Under federal statutes, Johnson is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole. 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 Cynthia L. Cordes. 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