According to court documents, Edward John Ranft, 46, of Bradenton, Fla., initiated contact in an Internet chat room with an undercover special agent who he believed was a 14-year-old girl. For two months or more, Ranft chatted with the girl using graphic and sexually explicit language. He expressed his desire to engage in sexual activity with the girl, whom he acknowledged was 14 years old. He instructed the girl to remove her chat history from the computer to avoid detection and encouraged her to lie to her mother about their planned meeting. Ranft drove nearly two hours to meet the girl in Florida's Brevard County. He was arrested upon his arrival.
"Child predators are some of the most heinous criminal offenders," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "HSI works tirelessly to investigate these predators and make sure they are prosecuted for the crimes they commit."
Ranft must also forfeit the computer he used to commit the offense and serve a 10-year term of supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.