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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Leesburg Resident Pleads Guilty to Attempted Online Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity

            A Leesburg, Florida resident pled guilty today to attempted online enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

            Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John Bolduc, Chief, Port St. Lucie Police Department, made the announcement.

            Jonathan Mahowald, 38, of Leesburg pleaded guilty to Attempted Use of a Means of Interstate Commerce to Persuade, Induce, Entice, or Coerce a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b) (Case No. 18-CR-14072-KAM.  Mahowald faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison.  Mahowald also faces up to a lifetime of supervised release and the requirement that he register as a sex offender. He was ordered to be held in custody, pending sentencing on October 18, 2019, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra.

According to documents filed in the case, on July 6, 2018, a Port St. Lucie Police Department Detective was working in an undercover capacity online, utilizing the internet, to investigate computer crimes against children. Between July 6, 2018 and July 17, 2018, a Port St. Lucie Police Detective, posing as a 14 year old girl, responded to an internet advertisement Mahowald had posted.  During the course of text and online communications Mahowald discussed sexually explicit activity he wished to engage in with the “14-year old.”  In addition, Mahowald sent sexually explicit images, to the person he believed was a minor.  On the morning of July 17, 2019, Mahowald set up a meeting with the “14 year old” to meet at a restaurant in Port. St Lucie. While en route, Mahowald discussed engaging in sexual acts, in his van, with the individual he believed was a 14 year old girl. Upon his arrival Mahowald was arrested by members of the Port St. Lucie Police Department. 

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the Port St. Lucie Police Department for their work on this case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated July 17, 2019