Billings man admits attempted coercion, enticement of minor for sex in undercover investigation
BILLINGS — A Billings man accused of trying to coerce and entice a girl he believed to be a minor into engaging in sexual activity during an undercover investigation admitted to charges on April 7, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said today.
Jason Robert Kroepelin, 32, pleaded guilty to attempted coercion and enticement. Kroepelin faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Judge Watters set sentencing for Aug. 17. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other sentencing factors. Kroepelin was detained pending further proceedings.
In court documents, the government alleged that in late October 2021, Kroepelin posted an advertisement on the internet seeking a young female for sexual purpose. In response, an undercover FBI employee, using a fictitious persona, contacted Kroepelin about a young girl, also fictitious, who was available.
Kroepelin and the undercover employee exchanged messages, engaged in sexually explicit conversation about the fictitious girl and agreed to meet at a property in Billings. Kroepelin also contacted a social media account purportedly belonging to the fictitious girl and sent a picture of himself. On Oct. 28, Kroepelin was arrested when he arrived at an agreed upon location in Billings. Kroepelin had condoms and lubricant in his pocket and a cellular phone showing his communication with the undercover employee.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
This case was initiated under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Through a network of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation. It is implemented through partnerships including the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing their investigative response to technology facilitated crimes against children.