Man admits to soliciting underage sex

British citizen to return to Europe in plea bargain in Internet sting case

August 08, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 30-year-old British citizen living in Owings Mills admitted yesterday that he traveled to Taneytown to have sexual relations with two 13-year-old girls in a rendezvous arranged through the Internet -- with an undercover sheriff's deputy playing the part of the nonexistent teen-agers.

Richard D. Burton of the 4600 block of Embassy Circle pleaded guilty in Carroll County Circuit Court to an attempted third-degree sexual offense and use of a computer to solicit sex with a minor. He was sentenced to the two months he had served at the Carroll County Detention Center, where he had been held on $250,000 bail since his arrest June 4 on six charges.

Burton planned to catch a plane to Great Britain tonight -- or last night, if he could get out of jail fast enough, defense attorney Charles L. Waechter told Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

Burton apologized before he was sentenced. "I'm obviously very sorry for my conduct ... ," he said, his voice trailing off.

Waechter said Burton has been living in Maryland for 2 1/2 years on a work visa as the vice president of operations in the United States for a large international pet-supply company. The attorney said Burton was fired after the arrest.

From May 23 to June 3, Burton initiated and outlined plans for a sexual encounter with "Stephanie" and "Michelle," to whom he sent his photograph via the Internet, said Assistant State's Attorney Amy L. Blank. His screen name "Bored-in-baltimore-2" was traced to a business computer in Glen Burnie.

When Burton drove to the McDonald's restaurant in Taneytown, the 89-pound person he had expected to meet was actually Cpl. Brad Brown of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, a member of the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit.

As part of the plea agreement, Burton received a suspended one-year sentence and six months of unsupervised probation. As conditions of Burton's probation, the judge said the man had to leave the country, have no use of computers or contact with minors in the United States, and that he return without a fight to America should any other state or federal charges be filed.

Carroll County prosecutors dropped the other charges against him.

The state police task force has made 14 such arrests this year, including several of men who traveled into Carroll County from other counties and states.

Yesterday, the task force announced the arrest of a 25-year-old man at the Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick County who is accused of having sexual relations with a girl.

Mario N. Martinez of Fairfax, Va., was at the Frederick County Detention Center on a $15,000 bond, charged with three second-degree sex offenses, the police said.

The task force was contacted Aug. 1 by a woman who said her 13-year-old daughter had met a man in a computer chat room, and in June, met and had illicit sexual activity with him at the Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Urbana, police said.

A Frederick County sheriff's deputy then posed as the girl and arranged to meet a suspect at the mall, the police said.

This is the first task force case in which an alleged victim played such a role in the investigation, according to the police.

The legality of the Internet stings is being considered in a case now before the Maryland Court of Appeals. The challenge arose from a Frederick County case in which a judge ruled during pretrial motions in August 2000 that there was no crime committed by a defendant who traveled from New Jersey because there was no actual victim.

The appeals court heard arguments on that issue in May 2001, but has not issued a ruling. The court has scheduled for next month another round of oral arguments, this one on centering on whether prosecutors in the Frederick case should be barred from trying the man because his charges have been dismissed.

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