Air Force Airman Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Attempted Online Enticement of a Minor
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 24, 2012|
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan sentenced Brandon Meredith Hardy (21, Valdosta) today to 10 years in federal prison and a 15-year term of supervised release for using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. Hardy was also ordered to register as a sex offender and forfeit his computer media. In March 2012, Hardy was found guilty after a jury trial. At the time of the offense, Hardy was an airman and security officer in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.
According to testimony and evidence introduced during trial, from April 23, 2011 through April 28, 2011, Hardy engaged in a series of online conversations with a person whom he believed to be a 12-year-old child. Unbeknownst to Hardy, this “child” was actually an undercover officer with the Florida Attorney General’s Child Predator Cybercrime Unit. During the course of the online conversations, Hardy attempted to entice and persuade the “child” to engage in sexual activity and arranged to meet the “child.” On April 28, 2011, Hardy drove his vehicle from his duty station at Moody Air Force Base to a residence in St. Augustine, Florida, to meet the “child” for the purpose of engaging in sex. Immediately after Hardy rang the doorbell at the residence, he was arrested by deputies with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. A search of Hardy’s vehicle revealed, among other things, a laptop computer containing a photograph depicting child pornography and a bottle of personal lubricant.
This case was investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the former Child Predator Cybercrime Unit of the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case 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 the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “Resources.”