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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT:  DAVILYN WALSTON
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2007                                                                PHONE: (409) 839-2538
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe                                                                  CELL: (409) 553-9881

TYLER MAN SENTENCED FOR SOLICITING SEX FROM A MINOR

 

            TYLER, TX – United States Attorney Matthew D. Orwig announced today that a 61-year-old Tyler man has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for attempting to solicit sex from a minor in the Eastern District of Texas.

ALI VAGEFI pleaded guilty to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor on February 20, 2007, and was sentenced today by United States District Judge Michael H. Schneider.

According to information presented in court, in July 2006, Vagefi used a computer located in Tyler, Texas to communicate with a person using the screen name "Crissy” within a Yahoo on-line chat room.  He represented himself to be a 46-year-old male.  Crissy stated that she was a 14-year-old female living in Murphy, Texas.  Vagefi’s on-line conversations with Crissy were sexually explicit and he scheduled a meeting with Crissy on July 25, 2006, in Murphy, Texas, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with Crissy.

On July 22, 2006, Officer Kevin Carter of the Murphy Police Department was contacted by a volunteer with Perverted Justice.   Perverted Justice is a private organization composed of volunteers that monitor Internet chat activities in an effort to detect and report persons utilizing the Internet for the purpose of preying upon children.  This volunteer related that he was posing as a 14-year-old female child on the Internet in a chat room (using the screen name "Crissy”) and that a "Mikejardi" had engaged in a sexually explicit conversation in which he was seeking to meet and have sex with Crissy.  It was agreed that Officer Carter and this Perverted Justice volunteer would work together in an operation to identify and bring to justice "Mikejardi."

            On July 24, 2006, the volunteer telephoned Officer Carter and reported that Mikejardi had been in the Yahoo chat room communicating with Crissy.  Mikejardi solicited Crissy to meet at a convenience store in Murphy, Texas, on July 25, 2006, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.  The volunteer stated that in the on-line chat, he had asked for a stuffed toy animal from Mikejardi to be delivered at their meeting.

On July 25, 2006, Vagefi arrived at the convenience store in Murphy, Texas, for the purpose of meeting with Crissy.  He was in possession of a teddy bear stuffed animal and condoms.  Vagefi was then arrested by Murphy Police.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood.  In February 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales launched 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 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Murphy, Texas Police Department and the Longview Police Department Internet Crimes against Children Unit.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg A. Marchessault.

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