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Press Release

Cuyahoga Falls Man Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Trying To Buy A Child

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

A Cuyahoga Falls man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to purchase a 10-year-old girl, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Robert W. Thomas, age 37, was found guilty earlier this year on three counts: offering to buy a child, enticement and receipt and distribution of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

"This sentence is well-deserved given the disturbing nature of the charges," Dettelbach said. “Our office remains committed to working with the FBI and all our law enforcement partners to defend our children and fight human trafficking.”

“This case is the result of outstanding investigative work completed by the FBI and the Alliance Police Department and our partners,” Anthony said. “Law enforcement will continue to proactively and aggressively pursue predators that intend to harm our children.”

"The city of Alliance is very satisfied with the result in this matter," said Law Director Jennifer L. Arnold. "The level of professionalism and cooperation of all the agencies involved was impressive. I was proud to work with everyone involved, especially Detective Shatzer, who spearheaded the investigation."

On January 11, 2014, detectives from the Alliance Police Department arrested a man who was attempting to purchase a 10-year-old female child to keep and use for sexual purposes. The man had posted on an online site asking for anyone willing to arrange a “marriage” of their daughter to him. An Alliance Police Department officer, also assigned to the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, responded to the man’s posting and began a conversation, according to court documents.

Thomas agreed to a meeting with the online undercover officer to purchase for $400 what he believed to be a 10-year-old child. Thomas and the officer, acting in an undercover capacity, met in a business establishment in Alliance and then went outside to complete the “transaction.” As the two approached the undercover officer’s vehicle, Thomas was arrested. At the time of arrest, Thomas had $400 cash in his hand, according to court documents.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Alliance Police Department, with assistance from the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Sullivan.

Updated March 12, 2015