Bus Driver Sentenced to 19 Years in Federal Prison for Child Enticement Offense, Planning Murder of Victim
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOSE MANUEL SANTOS, 38, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to 228 months of imprisonment, followed by seven years of supervised release, for enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, and for obstructing justice by attempting to have the minor victim murdered.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Santos was employed by Curtin Livery as a bus/van driver in Connecticut with responsibilities that included transporting children going to and from a middle school in Wallingford. In October 2018, law enforcement received information that Santos was sexually soliciting a 13-year-old girl who was a passenger on his route. Analysis of the minor victim’s cell phone records revealed more than 200 text messages or calls between Santos and the victim, a sexually explicit photo of Santos that Santos sent to the minor victim, and multiple messages in which Santos coerced the victim to send him a sexually explicit photo of her.
Santos has been detained since his arrest on November 2, 2018.
In the fall of 2019, while Santos was in federal custody and awaiting trial, Santos engaged an individual and, subsequently, an undercover law enforcement officer, to have the 13-year-old victim murdered to prevent her from testifying against him. In a phone call on December 2, 2019, the undercover officer told Santos that the victim had been murdered. Immediately after receiving the information, Santos asked the undercover officer to begin collecting background information on an Assistant U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting Santos’ case.
On February 20, 2020, Santos pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Santos’ criminal history includes convictions for reckless endangerment, assault and larceny offenses. In 2003, he was convicted of offenses related to his running from police, stealing a police cruiser, striking the officer with the car door when the officer attempted to stop him, and dragging the officer as Santos sped off in the stolen cruiser.
This matter was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Connecticut Department of Correction. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy V. Gifford and Brian P. Leaming.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.