Orlando, FL –United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found William Daniel Leonard (55, Maryland) guilty of using the internet and his cellphone to attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. Leonard faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison, as well as a potential life term of supervised release. Leonard was remanded into custody after the return of the verdict. His sentencing hearing in scheduled for January 4, 2024. Leonard was indicted on February 23, 2022.
According to evidence and testimony introduced during the two-day trial, on November 12, 2021, Leonard reached out to an undercover agent who was posing as the father of a 13-year-old daughter online. Leonard expressed interest in meeting the notional child for sex and spent the next three weeks planning his trip from Maryland to Florida. During the same time that he was making plans to come to Florida, Leonard was talking to two other minors online, a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl.
Leonard traveled to North Carolina on November 19, 2021, to see the 14-year-old girl after deciphering her address from a digital photograph that she had sent to Leonard. On December 7, 2021, Leonard arrived in Florida with two boxes of condoms to meet the notional 13-year-old girl, where he was met by law enforcement officers and arrested.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Florida. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie McNeff and Amanda Daniels.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.