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Press Release

Attempted sex trafficking of minor in Billings sends Virginia man to prison for 10 years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

MISSOULA — A Virginia man convicted in a jury trial of attempting to trafficking a minor while in Billings was sentenced today to 10 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

A federal jury convicted Mark Samuel Baker, 57, of Gore, Virginia, of attempted sex trafficking of a minor as charged in an indictment on Sept. 19, 2023, following a two-day trial in Missoula.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

In court documents and during trial, the government alleged that from July 11, 2022 to July 13, 2022, Baker knowingly attempted to recruit and solicit a minor to engage in commercial sex. During the investigation, an undercover officer used the internet to post an advertisement purporting to be a female escort who was the minimum allowed posting age of 18. About six hours later, the undercover agent received a message in response to the ad from a phone number later identified to be Baker’s. Law enforcement responded on July 12, 2022 asking if Baker wanted “a date.” Law enforcement and Baker communicated over the next two days. One of the exchanges included: Law enforcement asks, “Are u ok if I’m not 18.” Baker responds, “Yes as long as you are ok I’m 49.”  Law enforcement writes, “I’m almost 16 if ur cool w that.”

Baker and the undercover discussed how much time $80 would buy, and Baker said he wanted sex with the undercover officer. Baker also sent pictures of the cash he would use and of himself. They then made plans to meet in Billings and go to Baker’s hotel. Law enforcement arrested Baker on July 13, 2022 when he showed up at the designated time. A call was then placed to the phone number law enforcement had been texting, and a smartphone in Baker’s vehicle lit up with the undercover’s number. Law enforcement found $375 in cash, a hotel passkey and four condoms on Baker’s person.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. The FBI, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and Billings Police Department conducted the investigation.

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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated February 27, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 24-57