News and Press Releases

Reno Man Convicted of Enticement of Minor for Sex over Internet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2007

Reno, Nev. – Following a three-day jury trial, Jeffrey Leigh Thurber, age 49, of Reno, was found guilty on May 3, 2007, of using a computer to induce and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, announced Steven W. Myhre, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, from about December 30, 2003, to January 6, 2004, Jeffrey Leigh Thurber entered a Yahoo chat room and had a series of chats with an undercover police officer pretending to be a 14-year-old girl. During the chats, Thurber engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the girl and arranged to meet her in Reno. When he arrived at the meeting location, he was arrested by law enforcement officers. An FBI Agent testified at trial that the chat room used by the defendant was known to be used by sexual predators seeking minors.

The case was originally charged by the Washoe County District Attorney's Office, but the charges were dismissed as a result of a finding by the District Court that the Nevada statute as written required that an actual minor be involved to constitute a criminal case.

Mr. Thurber faces a five-year minimum mandatory term of imprisonment, and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 3, 2007, at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval. He is released on bond pending sentencing.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created 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/.

This case was investigated by a joint cybercrimes task force consisting of federal and local law enforcement officers, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald C. Rachow.

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