Robert Dean Graef, 29, of Tulsa, pleaded guilty Oct. 21 before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr, Western District of Missouri, to attempting to entice a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl to engage in illicit sex, and to traveling across state lines to engage in sex with a minor.
Graef engaged in online chats with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl, but who in fact was an undercover officer with the Jasper County Sheriff's Department. Graef arranged to meet the girl at a crypt in a Carthage, Mo., cemetery on the evening of April 17, 2009. He was arrested when he entered the cemetery and drove to the crypt. At the time of his arrest, Graef had a pistol holster and a .40-caliber magazine in his pocket. In the center console of his car, arresting officers discovered a loaded .40-caliber Glock pistol with a laser sight and another ammunition magazine. Officers also found the following items in Graef's vehicle: duct tape, black plastic zip ties fashioned into handcuffs, handcuffs, two Glock .40-caliber magazines each loaded with 13 rounds of ammunition, and 50 rounds of .45-caliber ammunition.
Graef admitted that he used the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity from April 13 to April 17, 2009. Graef also admitted that he traveled across state lines to Jasper County, Mo., on April 17 to attempt to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
By pleading guilty, Graef also agreed to forfeit to the government the Glock .40-caliber handgun, the magazines and .40-caliber ammunition, and a 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible, all of which were used to commit the offense.
Under federal statutes, Graef is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, and a maximum sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting this case.
"This case reveals the disturbing truth that some adults will go to great lengths to sexually exploit minors," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City. "All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation. Identifying and investigating those who victimize children is one of ICE's most important responsibilities."
The ICE investigation and arrest was part of an initiative known as Operation Predator. Operation Predator protects children from sexual predators, including those who travel across continents to have sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child traffickers. Since the initiative was launched in July 2003, there have been almost 12,000 individuals arrested nationwide.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is 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.