Man, 34, pleads guilty in sex sting

Setting up liaison with `girl' yields a term of probation

April 20, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 34-year-old Silver Spring man who traded online sex talk with who he thought was a 12-year-old girl last summer and was arrested after arriving to meet her at The Mall in Columbia pleaded guilty yesterday to soliciting a minor and was placed on two years' supervised probation.

Oscar R. Banderas took condoms with him for a liaison July 2 with "stephanielf2000" - a female state trooper posing as a child - but hung around the site of the meeting, the mall carousel, for a few minutes before walking away, lawyers said.

"It was a case of curiosity gone too far," his attorney, Robert Bonsib, said after yesterday's hearing. Banderas, a loan officer for a mortgage company, had an appointment in College Park shortly after the scheduled meeting at the mall, he said.

Howard Circuit Judge James B. Dudley gave Banderas, of the 14300 block of Bradshaw Drive, a one-year suspended sentence and placed him on two years' supervised probation. He also ordered Banderas to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.

Prosecutors said yesterday that the trooper had logged on to the Internet on June 25 as part of a training session when Banderas sent her an instant message. The trooper told him she was 12, and Banderas asked if she had ever had sex, prosecutors said.

During a second chat July 1, Banderas told "stephanielf2000" that he wanted to be her first sexual partner, and the two made plans to meet at 10 a.m. the next day at the mall, prosecutors said.

Banderas, who used the screen name "oscarbanderas," was arrested after troopers saw him at the carousel at the appointed time, prosecutors said.

Yesterday, Bonsib told Dudley that his client was having problems with his wife at the time and turned to the Internet.

The conversation with "stephanielf2000" took place in an adult "romance" chat room, he said. Other than the few chats with "stephanielf2000," investigators found no evidence of underage contacts on his computer, Bonsib said.

"This wasn't the tip of the iceberg," he said. "This is simply all there was."

Prosecutor Danielle Duclaux said state investigators told her office that they did not find the "usual [Internet] traffic ... that would indicate [Banderas] was ... [involved with] children."

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