This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the Child Predator Cyber Crime Unit of the State of Florida Attorney General's Office.
"This sentencing should serve as a warning about the serious consequences of attempting to sexually exploit children," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa, Fla. "Through our partnerships with state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies, ICE will continue to police cyber space to investigate predators and ensure that they feel the full weight of the law."
Deal was also ordered to register as a sex offender. He had been found guilty of these charges after a jury trial in U.S. District Court on May 6. Deal has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 11, 2008.
According to court testimony and evidence introduced during trial, from August 28, 2008 through September 11, 2008, Deal engaged in several online conversations over the Internet with a person whom he believed to be a 13-year-old child.
Unbeknownst to Deal, this "child" was actually a detective with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
During the course of the online conversations, Deal attempted to entice and persuade the "child" to engage in sex with him, and he also stated that he wished to take pornographic pictures of the "child."
On Sept. 11, 2008, Deal arranged to meet the "child" at a restaurant in Jacksonville for the purpose of engaging in sex. As Deal approached the area in his vehicle, he was arrested by investigators with the Child Predator CyberCrime Unit of the State of Florida Attorney General's Office and Jacksonville Sheriff's officers.
A search of Deal's vehicle revealed that he had brought five condoms, two pairs of thong underwear, and a digital camera in a backpack for use during the planned sexual encounter.
It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney D.Rodney Brown.
This case was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate, and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit is a member of the FBI Cyber Taskforce in Jacksonville and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, a federally funded program working nationwide to educate and support law enforcement to stop these crimes. More information on the Florida Attorney General's CyberCrime initiative is available at http://www.myfloridalegal.com.