Monday, July 23, 2007

Polk County Sting Nabs 25 Men for Soliciting Sex with Minors

POLK COUNTY -- Polk County undercover detectives, along with agents from other law enforcement agencies, arrested 22 men over the weekend in their 3rd go around of "Operation Guardian"
The undercover operation, which began 2 weeks ago, started with deputies talking to the suspects over the internet posing as children. The men were invited to a home in Polk County this past weekend to meet with what they thought would be children for sexual encounters.
Instead they were greeted by undercover officers, who arrested them for soliciting sex from a child.
"They tell us stories, said Sheriff Grady Judd, "I came here to tell the child how dangerous this was. We all know that's not true."
Among those arrested, a youth hockey coach from Orlando, a volunteer firefighter, and Joseph Cioffi, a former Marion County Sheriff's Deputy who now works with Homeland Security.
Sasha Barber, and Orlando youth soccer coach, was arrested Monday at 11:30 am, after news broke of the sting. 2 other suspects were arrested today.

Most of those arrested are from central Florida, but the group also includes Clifford Burdick, an air condtioning repairman from St. Petersburg.

"It's obvious that these deviants never learn," said Judd, "and its disappointing to know we have arrested child predators who come from public service industries."

©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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