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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


NOVEMBER 25, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD


FORMER STATE FIRE INVESTIGATOR SENTENCED FOR

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 was sentenced in federal court today for using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.


            Lee E. Johnson, 49, of Warrensburg, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple this morning to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Johnson was a fire investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Missouri Department of Public Safety.


            Johnson pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2008. 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.


            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.


            This case was 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