Fire Captain Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Sex Crime
Faces 10-Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 15, 2010|
LAS VEGAS—Clark County Fire Department Captain Martin Vohwinkel pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to coerce and entice a minor for sex, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Vohwinkel, 56, of Las Vegas, entered the guilty plea this morning before Chief U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt. Vohwinkel, who is currently released on a personal recognizance bond with special conditions, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and lifetime supervised release.
According to the plea memorandum, on February 25, 2010, a Henderson Police Department (HPD) detective initiated an undercover investigation of persons using the Internet to solicit minors for sex. The detective found an advertisement on the Internet site Craigslist.com from a person who was seeking to have sex with a young girl in exchange for money. The ad stated, “the younger the better.” The detective, posing as a 14-year-old girl, replied to the advertisement, and on the same day, the detective received an e-mail from Vohwinkel asking the girl if she wanted to have sex. Vohwinkel advised that he needed to have sex with her as soon as possible and sent the undercover detective two pictures of himself—one of him standing naked in front of a mirror and another of his face. Vohwinkel told the girl that he was a local firefighter, and also provided his name, “Marty,” and his telephone number. Vohwinkel told the girl repeatedly that he wanted to meet her for sex, told her what he wanted her to wear, and repeatedly asked her for naked pictures of herself. The next day, the undercover detective posing as the young girl, communicated by cell phone with Vohwinkel via text messaging and they made arrangements to meet in a supermarket parking lot in Henderson. Vohwinkel advised that he would be driving a Toyota Tundra truck. Vohwinkel showed up in the Tundra at the pre-arranged meeting time and was arrested and charged by HPD. Vohwinkel was then indicted by the federal grand jury on March 2, 2010.
The case is being investigated by the Southern Nevada Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and Henderson Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy J. Koppe.
The case is 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 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.