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Press Release

Two Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Attempting to Entice a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
Lauren Barry, Public Affairs Officer

BENTON, Ill. – A district judge sentenced two men to each spend ten years in federal prison after both were charged in a law enforcement sting to detect online child predators.

Timmy Wayne Smith, 59, of McLeansboro, Illinois, and Joseph Randall Edmaiston, 37, of Clinton, Kentucky, each pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a minor.

“Although both men fully intended to sexually abuse a child, they were apprehended by law enforcement after interacting online with a purported 15-year-old girl who was actually an undercover agent,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “This proactive operation successfully detected child predators lurking online, and I appreciate the actions of the officers to put these offenders in federal prison.”

In August 2020, law enforcement agents conducted an undercover investigation to detect child predators where an agent created an online profile of a purported 15-year-old girl. According to court documents, Smith and Edmaiston both interacted with the undercover profile and discussed plans to engage in sexual conduct with the purported child.

“The ease of online interaction increases the likelihood that a predator will engage your child with the intent to harm them,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Shannon Fontenot.” It is imperative that parents and caregivers establish safety guidelines for children and monitor who they talk to online. The FBI’s proactive efforts help to thwart the attempts of those looking to do harm, but prevention can go a long way in avoiding a tragedy all together.”

Smith and Edmaiston were each arrested by police after both men traveled to a home in Marion, Illinois, for the sexual encounter. Following the federal prison sentence, both men will each serve five years of supervised release.

FBI Springfield Field Office led the investigation with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Illinois State Police, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, the Herrin Police Department, and the Marion Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey Bloodworth and David Sanders prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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.

Updated December 19, 2023