Miami, Florida – A 56-year-old man living in Minnesota pled guilty today in federal district court in West Palm Beach to attempted enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Richard Martin Lehner admitted that, over the course of three months, he communicated with an individual he thought was a 15-year-old girl on an online dating application. Lehner repeatedly communicated with her through text and voice message, sending sexually explicit messages in order to convince her to engage in sexual activities with him. He then booked a flight from Minnesota to Florida and booked a hotel room in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he believed the girl lived. When Lehner arrived in Florida, he purchased condoms and drove to a restaurant where he planned to meet the girl, to then take her to his hotel room for sex. Law enforcement officers arrested Lehner when he arrived at the restaurant.
Lehner pled guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. Sentencing for Lehner is set for November 3, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks. Lehner faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, announced the guilty plea.
HSI Miami, West Palm Beach Office, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon O’Shea Darsch is prosecuting this 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 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.
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 on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov under case number 21-cr-80094.
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