ORLANDO, Fla. - Lee Michael Eckler, 31, of Rockledge, Fla., was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison for enticing a minor via the Internet to engage in sexual acts, following an investigation by the Brevard County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Eckler was found guilty on Feb. 7 after a bench trial.
According to court documents, on Jan. 25, 2010, a BCSO detective was working in an undercover capacity as a 14-year-old female in a free public chat room. While in the chat room, the undercover officer was contacted by Eckler, and during the chats, the officer agreed to meet Eckler later in the day.
Eckler was arrested when he showed up at a pre-arranged location to meet the undercover officer. He later admitted to the chats and their sexual nature.
This investigation was conducted as 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 prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carlos A. Perez-Irizarry and LaKesia Mosley.