A program developed by the Platte County Sheriffs
Department less than a year ago has become a success
in fighting new-age crime.
The Cyber Crimes Initiative, created on Jan. 1
of this year, employs two full-time detectives,
Mark Stephens and Jason Krohne, who investigate
crimes of child enticement, identity theft, child
pornography, and e-mail scams.
According to Detective Sgt. Tony Avery of the
investigations division for the sheriffs
department, the unit was developed after Sheriff
Richard Anderson and Captain Frank Hunter realized
a need for a unit to address these issues in the
"The sheriff and captain realized we needed
to take a proactive stance on these issues,
"Our goal is to better serve the citizens
of Platte County and up until a year ago we had
no special training to address the fastest growing
crime in the country, which is identity theft,
continued Avery. We also recognized that
child enticement is a major problem for the children
of Platte County.
According to Avery, to date the Cyber Crimes
Unit has made 25 arrests for child exploitation.
Avery stated that of the 25 arrests, 22 cases
have been forwarded to U.S. Attorney Todd Graves
office for prosecution.
"Those cases are what we consider travelers'
cases, where the offender travels beyond the state
lines of Missouri and Kansas, said Avery.
As of Tuesday morning, of the 22 cases being
prosecuted on the federal level, six offenders
have pled guilty.
Avery stated that those individuals agreed to
Flat 5,' which is a five year sentence.
According to federal law, those offenders could
have received a sentence of 5-30 years with a
five year minimum being mandatory.
The remaining three child enticement cases are
currently believed to be sitting at the state
level awaiting review and prosecution, stated
At the state level, the offenders can be found
guilty of a Class C felony of child enticement
which carries with it a 2-7 year prison sentence.
Avery explained the detectives' operation this
"The officers enter into chat rooms over
internet messaging in an undercover capacity,
identifying themselves to be a 13 or 14 year old
child. The detectives then wait to be contacted
by the offender. Once theres contact, they
then allow the offender to set the pace and tone
of the conversation, explained Avery.
They (the detectives) set themselves up
as bait for these offenders to bite on.
According to Avery, Missouri statute 566.151 identifies
child enticement as: A person at least 21
years of age or older who commits a crime of enticement
of a child if that person persuades, solicits,
coaxes, entices or allures, whether by words,
actions or through communication via the internet
or any electronic communication, any person who
is less than 15 years of age for purpose of engaging
in sexual conduct with a child.
Avery also reported that the unit has investigated
five identity theft cases, three fraud cases,
two child pornography cases, and one e-mail scam.
"A couple of our fraud cases have taken
us out of the country, said Avery. Platte
County investigates those to the largest extent
of our ability. Once it takes us outside the boundaries
of Platte County and especially the country, we
turn the case over to the feds.