New FBI Undercover Operation Snares Six | USAO-SDIL

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. – Six more men from Missouri and Illinois are facing federal charges for
attempting to engage in sexual activity with minors.

Eric E. Hamilton, II, 22, of Maryland Heights, Missouri, is charged with attempted enticement of a 
minor and traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Godfrey C. Hubbard, 52, of Sorento, Illinois, is charged with attempted enticement of a minor. 
Justin Schneider, 33, of Edwardsville, Illinois, is charged with attempted enticement of a minor.
Christopher  M.  Simmons,  30,  of  St.  Louis,  Missouri,  is  charged  with  attempted  
commercial  sex trafficking of a child, attempted enticement of a minor, and traveling across state 
lines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Michael James Smith, 39, of Barnhart, Missouri, is charged with attempted enticement of a minor. 
James Tiroch, 37, of Florissant, Missouri, is charged with attempted enticement of a minor.
The cases are the result of an FBI-led operation involving multiple federal and state law 
enforcement agencies aimed at rooting out internet users attempting to meet children for sex. All 
six men have been charged by federal complaint. The crimes allegedly occurred in the Southern 
District of Illinois.
U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft and FBI-Springfield Special Agent in Charge Sean M. Cox made the 
announcement.

“Children are vulnerable to sexual exploitation across the internet,” said U.S. Attorney Weinhoeft. 
“That’s why we are continually updating our investigative techniques and casting a wide net over a 
variety of online applications and other internet platforms where children are at risk. To anyone 
who would prey on our kids, know this: law enforcement is watching, and you will be caught.”

“The FBI works tirelessly in collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement 
partners to shut down child predators in hopes of preventing what could be a lifetime of trauma for 
victims,” said SAC Cox. “Children tend to be trusting online and will befriend strangers of any age 
or gender. Offenders take advantage of this naivety and target children who openly engage others 
online or who have  a  strong  social  networking  presence.  Parents  and  guardians  are  the  
first  line  of  defense  in preventing access to their children. Talk to your children, know what 
they’re doing online, and if you
suspect suspicious activity, don’t hesitate to report it to the FBI.”

All six defendants are accused of using the internet to entice someone under 17 years old to engage
in unlawful sexual activity and traveling to a specific location to engage in sexual acts with a 
minor. Some of the defendants allegedly traveled across state lines and/or offered to pay for sex, 
leading to additional charges. Several of them allegedly had items with them when they were 
arrested, including alcohol, sex toys, condoms, and candy. No actual minors were harmed during the 
two-day operation.

If convicted, the defendants each face at least 10 years in prison and could receive as much as 
life behind bars. Traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor is punishable by up to 30 
years in prison. All of the offenses also carry a possible lifetime term of supervised release and 
fines of up to
$250,000.

Pending trial, all six defendants will be held without bond or released on electronic monitoring 
and other strict conditions, as required by federal law for these offenses.

A complaint is merely a charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be 
innocent of the charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

These cases fall under the umbrella of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 
2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and 
abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation 
and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to 
locate, apprehend,  and  prosecute  individuals  who  sexually  exploit  children,  and  to  
identify  and  rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit 
www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit 
www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

The investigation was led by FBI-Springfield, with assistance from FBI-St. Louis, U.S. Air Force 
Office  of  Special  Investigations,  the  Collinsville  Police  Department,  the  Edwardsville  
Police Department,   the   Illinois   State   Police,   the   Southern   Illinois   
University-Edwardsville   Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office, the Madison 
County States Attorney’s Office, the Alton  Police  Department,  the  Monroe  County  Sheriff’s  
Office,  the  Macoupin  County  Sheriff’s Office, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the 
Carlyle Police Department.

The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Karelia Rajagopal and Ali Burns.
[An earlier version of this press release inadvertently omitted the Macoupin County Sheriff’s 
Office.]
 

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Author: Editor
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