On March 26, 2019 United States District Judge Brian J. Davis sentenced 68 year old Mohammad Abdul Malek to 10 years in federal prison for attempted enticement and coercion of a minor to engage in sexual activity. Malek, a Ph.D. level engineer, was employed as a federal civilian employee at Kings Bay Naval Base and was living in St. Mary’s Georgia prior to his arrest.
To implement an investigation into child sexual exploitation, on August 22, 2019 a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detective posted an ad in the “community / activity partners” section of Craigslist. The ad stated “Looking 2 learn “(Atlantic)” “Hey, I’m looking 2 learn something new. . . I’m totally bored here visiting my granny! HMU if ur real.”
The detective assumed the persona of a 13 year old female. Malek responded only hours after the ad was posted to the internet, stating “I can teach you love making. . . .” Malek later claimed to be 50. The undercover persona replied that she was “almost 14.” Malek initially responded “You are too young.” Unfortunately for him, however, Malek subsequently engaged in more dialog from August 23 through August 26 involving approximately 780 text messages with the undercover persona.
During that time, Malek and the undercover persona exchanged photographs and discussed how he would teach her how to make love, as opposed to just having sex. On numerous occasions Malek acknowledged the undercover persona being a minor. Nonetheless, the conversation eventually turned to the parties meeting in Jacksonville for the purpose of having sex.
In addition to first exchanging emails and then text messages, Malek and the undercover persona also spoke on the phone. During those conversations, Malek reiterated the undercover persona’s minor age and his desire to teach her about sex.
Finally, Malek and the undercover persona arranged for Malek to meet her as he returned to St. Mary’s from a trip to Orlando. The plan was for the persona to meet Malek away from her grandmother’s house so the two could be together from about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. undetected while the grandmother was sleeping. On August 26, 2019 Malek arrived at the designated meeting location where he was then arrested.
Many of these types of cases are prosecuted in state court. The typical charges brought in state court for similar cases include use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; travelling to meet a minor for sex; transmitting information harmful to minors; and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. Some of these charges are second degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Others are third degree felonies punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Unfortunately for Mr. Malek, although his case originated with an investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, he was prosecuted in federal court for violating Title 28, United States Code, Section 2224(b). Sentences under that section are typically substantially lengthier than for similar cases prosecuted in state court. For example, an underage sex sting operation in St. Johns County last year involving more than a dozen people resulted in sentences ranging from a low of 2 to a high of 6 years, whereas Mr. Malek received 10 years for similar conduct. Regardless of whether your case is prosecuted in state or federal court, lengthy post-prison probationary periods and registration as a sex offender are usually involved as well.
If you’ve been arrested for allegedly seeking to have sex with an underage girl in Duval, Nassau, Clay, Baker or St. John’s Counties, you should retain a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney with sex crimes expertise to ensure you have the best chance of avoiding severe penalties, including lengthy prison time, felony convictions, extended sex offender probation and registration as a sex offender. Call me for a free consultation if you’d like to know more about how I can help you with your state or federal case involving attempting to have sex with a minor you met on the internet.