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Press Release

Florida Man Convicted Of Sex Crimes Against Escondido Children

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

SAN DIEGO – Tony McLeod of Tampa, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury this afternoon of multiple counts of sexual crimes against two minors following an eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours and found McLeod guilty of seven counts of sexual exploitation of a child, one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity as to a 14-year-old victim, and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child as to a 15-year-old victim. McLeod has been in custody since his arrest in Tampa, Florida in June 2013.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 11, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

According to evidence presented to the jury, in spring 2013, McLeod struck up a friendship with the minor victims through on-line gaming. These friendships spilled over into phone calls, texts, and video chats between McLeod and the minors in which they discussed their personal lives, including the fact that both minors attended middle school.

Around May of 2013, McLeod’s relationships with the minors turned sexual in nature. The jury found that McLeod engaged in sexual behavior with both minors. Some of this behavior included masturbation and the exchange of sexually explicit photographs and videos.

Both victims testified against McLeod during the trial.

The 14-year-old’s family learned of the illicit relationship, confiscated the minor’s phone and reported the matter to local authorities. In June 2013, McLeod traveled from where he lived in Tampa, Florida to Escondido, California in order to meet up with the child. McLeod picked up the child at school before the end of the school day and took the child to Los Angeles International Airport.

According to testimony at trial, McLeod purchased an airline ticket for the 14-year-old under an alias and they flew to Tampa, Florida. In the meantime, the family reported the minor as missing to Escondido Police Department. The Escondido Police Department tracked down McLeod’s whereabouts and informed the Tampa Police Department that McLeod and the victim (under an alias) were on a flight to Tampa. On arrival of the flight, McLeod was arrested and taken into custody.

McLeod faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison for each of the sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation counts, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life imprisonment for the transportation of a minor for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual activity count, and a maximum of 30 years for the travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct count.

McLeod’s arrest and prosecution was the result of coordination between multiple federal and state agencies in both San Diego, California and Tampa, Florida. The U.S. Attorney’s Office commends law enforcement from the FBI, Escondido Police Department, and Tampa Police Department who worked tirelessly to collect and preserve evidence as to numerous electronic devices and interview witnesses in order to bring McLeod to justice.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office appreciates the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the Florida State’s Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida for their involvement in the case at the outset.

DEFENDANT   Case Number: 13CR2297-JLS
Tony Lee McLeod Age: 38 Tampa, Florida

Title 18, United States Code, Section 2221(a) and (e) – Sexual Exploitation of a Child
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2251(a) and (e) – Attempted Sexual Exploitation of a Child
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(b) – Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(a) – Transportation of a Minor with the Purpose of Engaging in Criminal Sexual Activity

San Diego FBI
Escondido Police Department
Tampa Police Department
San Diego Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory
San Diego District Attorney’s Office
San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
San Diego Sheriff’s Department
Tampa FBI
United States Marshal’s Service Task Force (Tampa)
Tampa International Airport Police
Florida State’s Attorney’s Office
US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida
Updated July 23, 2015