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Child Exploitation

Florida man pleads guilty to traveling to the Phillippines for sex tourism

MIAMI - Donald Mathias, of Davie, Fla., pleaded guilty today to engaging in sex tourism in the Philippines following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mathias, 64, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to four counts of traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in illicit sexual conduct. He was indicted on those charges on Oct. 27.

"Sexual predators cannot hide from ICE simply by traveling across borders to exploit, violate, and abuse children," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. "Working closely with our partners overseas, we will continue to identify people who travel for illicit purposes, and we will pursue justice for abused children no matter where they live."

As part of his plea agreement, Mathias admitted that from 2005 until December 2008, he communicated and arranged with the mother of two minor females located in the Philippines to travel to the Philippines and engage in sexual conduct with the minors.

Mathias and the mother exchanged hundreds of e-mails regarding sexual activity between Mathias and the minor females, recording those sexual acts, and payments to the mother in exchange for the sexual acts.

Mathias traveled to the Philippines in April 2007 and December 2007 and engaged in sexual conduct with the minors on those trips and recorded those acts. He also made the minors sign a contract in December 2007 requiring them to be his sex slaves.

Money transfer and e-mail records show that Mathias sent thousands of dollars to the mother between 2005 and December 2008.

Mathias traveled to the Philippines again in December 2008 to engage in sexual conduct with the minors again; however, Filipino law enforcement detained him and he was not successful in meeting the minors.

On Oct. 14, Mathias was arrested by ICE special agents and U.S. postal inspectors in Miami.

As part of the plea agreement, the defendant and the government both agreed to recommend a sentence of 20 years in prison and a lifetime period of supervised release. Mathias also agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to the victims of his crimes located in the Philippines and agreed to transfer his real property to the United States in order to satisfy the restitution.

Mathias faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine and the possibility of a lifetime period of supervised release. Sentencing has been set for March 2, 2010.

This case was investigated by ICE and the United States Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the Philippines Department of Justice.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Anitha Ibrahim of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Rodriguez of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator.

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.