23 suspected child predators arrested in Sarasota County sting

Sarasota County

(Photo: Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office)

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities have arrested 23 people during a four-day operation targeting suspected child predators in Sarasota County, officials said Friday.

Conducted by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, “Operation Intercept VII” targeted suspects who allegedly traveled to the county to meet minors for sex.

The offenders, all men, ranging in age from 21 to 77, had responded to online ads and apps and social media websites to engage in sexual activity with minors, authorities said.

Among those arrested was John Inga, who was visiting Florida from Oklahoma and drove from Lakeland to Sarasota to meet a 14-year-old child.

Another suspect, William Heagney drove to Sarasota from Crystal River on a suspended license.

“At the time of his arrest, Heagney was riding a bicycle and was in possession of child pornography on his phone,” deputies said.

Heagney allegedly sent more than 90 explicit photos of himself to an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old child.

Deputies said several men brought condoms, one brought candy and another brought a sex toy.

“Ultimately all 23 arrestees traveled with the intent of having sex with a male or female child,” the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff Tom Knight warned parents to be wary of what their children are doing online.

“I wish I could say these operations were no longer needed but time and time again, even after we make dozens of arrests, these men keep coming back for more,” Sarasota County Sheriff Knight said. “In this digital world we live in, innocent children are far too accessible to predators. That is why, as parents, we have to get serious about prevention. Parents are the first line of defense and we will never stop reminding our community of that.”

The men are:

  • Dwight Harris, 29, of Port Charlotte, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and transmission of harmful material.
  • William Heagney, 45, of Crystal River, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery, possession of child pornography and 91 counts of transmission of harmful material.
  • John Inga, 28, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Hamid Keshmirian, 62, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Jakari King, 29, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Cody Mathis, 34, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Ernest Panebianco, 65, of Osprey, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • David Perez-Mendez, 25, of Tampa, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Judson Perkins, 32, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and two counts of transmission of harmful material.
  • James Persons, 77, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Elias Pineda-Gamez, 29, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Demetris Roberts, 30, of Palmetto, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and violation of probation.
  • Randy Royce, 48, of , Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Kristopher Ryan, 37, of Ellenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Manikanta Sunkara, 26, of Tampa, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Kenneth Thompson, 23, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act and traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts.
  • William Zimmerman, 23, of North Port, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.

LATEST STORIES:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss