OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison for attempting to entice a minor to have sex.
This sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester, Western District of Oklahoma.
This case resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
At sentencing May 14, Judge DeGiusti sentenced Harry Dean Wheeler Jr., 68, of Oklahoma City, to 120 months in prison. Upon release from prison, he must serve five years on supervised release. He must also pay a $5,000 special assessment pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, an undercover agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs posted an ad on Craigslist on Sept. 19, 2017, in which he claimed to be a boy looking for a “daddy” who would be “willing to teach me about sex.” The affidavit explained that through the Craigslist email reply function, Wheeler used explicit sexual language to indicate he wanted to meet the boy for a sexual encounter. Wheeler also included three nude photos of himself.
According to the affidavit, the undercover agent responded: “Wow, your [sic] hot and sound really cool. Just to get it out of the way, I’m 14, but I’m very mature for my age, that’s why I don’t mind older guys.” The affidavit stated Wheeler then replied by email: “We must keep it a secret as what we will be doing is not legal.” Wheeler allegedly arranged to meet the person he thought was a 14-year-old boy in the parking lot of a business at 5501 North May Ave. in Oklahoma City with the intention of driving him to his own residence. When Wheeler arrived at the parking lot and identified himself to the undercover agent as “daddy,” federal agents arrested him.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Wheeler on Sept. 21, 2017. On Nov. 8, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted him on one count of using a facility and means of interstate commerce to attempt to persuade, induce and entice an individual he believed to be under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity. On Dec. 7, 2017, Wheeler pleaded guilty to that offense before U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Hale, Western District of Oklahoma, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2017, more than 2,700 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 900 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.