Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Enticement Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Raymond Berger, 32, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to an indictment charging him with coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Berger will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Berger will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.
Berger’s guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas, Chief Allen Banks of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), and Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.
Berger was arrested on May 26, 2013 by HSI agents on an indictment charging him with enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. The indictment alleged that between May 2, 2013 and May 6, 2013, Berger used the Internet and a cellular telephone to coerce and entice an individual whom he believed to be a minor to engage in sexual activity. Berger was arrested on state charges of solicitation of a child with an electronic communications devise on May 6, 2013; the state charges were dismissed after Berger was federally charged.
During today’s proceedings, Berger pleaded guilty to the indictment. In his plea agreement, Berger admitted that between May 2, 2013 and May 6, 2013, he engaged in a text messaging relationship with a person whom he believed to be a 12-year-old girl and that he made multiple solicitations for a sexual relationship with the “girl.” Berger further admitted that he made arrangements to meet with the “girl” in a parking lot on May 6, 2013 and was arrested by APD officers when he arrived at the parking lot.
Court filings reflect that Berger initiated the text messaging with the “girl” on May 2, 2013, when he responded to an Internet ad that included a photograph of a minor. The ad was placed by an APD officer who represented to Berger that he was a 12-year-old girl.
Berger has been in federal custody since his arrest on May 26, 2013, and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI, APD and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The case also was brought as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.