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Child Exploitation

Bay Area man pleads guilty to attempted sexual exploitation of a minor in Mexico

Conviction carries 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence

SAN FRANCISCO – A previously convicted sex offender faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Thursday to a charge resulting from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that revealed he traveled to Mexico to engage in sexual acts with a 13-year-old girl.

Gary Hardeman, 58, of San Francisco, admitted to committing a felony offense involving a minor while under a duty to register as a sex offender. In pleading guilty, Hardeman acknowledged he traveled from San Francisco to Mexico City, Mexico, and attempted to engage in sexual acts with the girl on Dec. 13 and Dec. 17, 2007. At the time of the offense, Hardeman was required by California law to register as a sex offender, based on his previous convictions for sex offenses in the state.

"As this case shows, those who engage in crimes involving the sexual exploitation of minors cannot escape justice by traveling beyond our borders," said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "Protecting young people both here and abroad from sexual predators continues to be a top priority for HSI. We are putting these predators on notice that HSI and its law enforcement partners stand ready to pursue and prosecute those who prey on innocent children. "

Hardeman was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2010. He was charged with one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and one count of committing this crime while under a legal obligation to register as a sex offender. Under the plea agreement, Hardeman pleaded guilty to the second of these two counts.

Hardeman, who is currently in custody, will be sentenced on Oct. 22. He faces a mandatory statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, plus restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Owen Martikan and Janaki Gandhi are prosecuting the case, aided by Hui Chen.