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These stories were published Tuesday, April 12, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 71
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Our readers respond to reports on crime here
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters are responses to a reader’s response published Monday to reports of highway holdups in the Garza-Nosara area on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

He’s not impressed

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to Mr. Jim Guyton's comments about the safety of tourist in CR, I have to disagree. That incident could have happened anywhere. My father-in-law is a retired jeffe of the Seguridad Pública and one of my brother-in-laws is a member of the Fuerza Pública. Just as in the U.S the cops can't be in all places at once. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Guyton. There is crime everywhere. I'll even bet Hood River, Ore. As for Colombia and Venezuela, don't hold your breath. 

Brian Ussery
Liberia, Costa Rica


Wonders about Sámara home

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I agree with Mr. Guyton about the danger to Costa Rican tourism.  I have been to Sámara five times in the last year always with family including my young children. 

I am contemplating building a home in Samara but the news of such problems is giving me second thoughts.  Several months ago a very good friend of mine had a very dangerous situation in his home in Sámara.  Two armed gunmen forced their way into his house and shot the nanny's husband in the head. Fortunately it just grazed him but an inch would have been a different result. 

I read your paper and the Tico Times but never saw a word about any of this.  It sounds like the problem with banditos in that area is escalating and it concerns me. 

Joseph Verce


Half of crime not reported

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As someone who makes a living in the tourism industry, I read with great concern each of your articles about crime in Costa Rica. Having lived here over seven years and heard dozens of first-hand horror stories, I also can guess that 50 percent or more of crime committed against tourists goes unreported.  For those who have reported their incidents to the authorities, little happens.

In the past 24 months, the volume and nature of the crimes committed has many of us in the tourism sector quite scared.  We want to do something, but what?

I might suggest we start with some sort of Internet Petition that is digitally signed by concerned business owners.  I know that many of us would be willing to make a donation or pay (another) tax to strengthen the police force.  Something has to be done. 

At the very least, we should make enough noise so that the next candidates for president of Costa Rica know it's an issue.  I have zero faith that this problem will be resolved by the government unless outside voices are heard.

Any ideas?

Casey Halloran 
San José
Tourists won’t be back

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As I read a reader’s letter in your Monday edition, I had to agree with him.  I'm the owner-operator of a small tourist resort, and I, too, feel that the reputation of increasing crimes against tourists will absolutely kill this Goose with Golden Eggs! 

This week we had two guests that were robbed during their stay in Costa Rica and, as much as they liked Costa Rica and the Ticos, they were not coming back.  And furthermore they will tell their friends the same. 

This is what they indicated: "The night time crowd at Tamarindo should give everyone reason for concern."  My take on this is: that the huge revenues of money flowing to that region suggests lots of money is floating and up for grabs and that is what’s happening.  The problem is the thieves are the ones grabbing. 

These real case scenarios were amazing to me as they could have been avoided by Costa Rica's authorities if they had the commitment. 

To all of you out there: the nicely dressed guys in the nice (new) car, that insist on helping you with your flat tire.  They are not there to help you with your tire as much as to grab your smaller purse or bag (because they know that's where the money, credit cards, etc is). 

This happened this week somewhere along the road towards Paquera from the Naranjo Ferry.  These guys are working on the back roads now days.   This type of thing's been going on for at least seven years now and still hasn't been stopped, so there must be a regular training school of highway robbers somewhere that keeps sending them out.  Hello, Costa Rica?  Do you think you could do something about this one? 

Also the hotel room that you think is secure: the thieves can crowbar the back door of your B&B, move on to pick the lock to your room, and lift your wallet, and money while you sleep, so put those things in the room safe, or find a way to disguise your valuables. 

This is what happened to some very nice people this week in Tamarindo.  As I understand it, the hotel also had some very nice jewelry display cases, and they lifted the good stuff from it on the same occasion. 

These were not flashy or obnoxious tourists. They weren't druggies. They were here to enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica and unfortunately they will spread the story of their robbery more than their enjoyment of the country.  Is this the image we want out there?

Since we have a lot of guests that are on the last leg of their trip (on the way home), we get the stories of the good, bad, and uglies.  I'd like to hear more good stories because I do love Costa Rica and it is worthy of the good stories. 

All of us in the business need to really keep an eye out for situations that will make us vulnerable but also we need to warn our guests as well.  It's better to have a paranoid guest that has a good time with no bad experiences than one who goes back home and warns all their friends not to come to Costa Rica.

Johanna Bresnan 
Vista Del Valle Plantation Inn 

 
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Australian tv wants
weird and wacky here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you are wacky or weird and have a good sense of humor, Australian tv wants you.

Nine Network Australia is sending a camera crew here along with television personality Ben Dark to shoot a segment for Getaway, described as "Australia’s longest running and highest-rating travel show."

Researcher Felicity Mattiske said via e-mail that she would like to line up people and events related to Costa Rica for May 16 to 30 when the crew will be here.

The show is looking for "people who are doing something interesting, fascinating, weird or crazy . . . .and preferably with a good sense of humour and confident on camera," she said, adding:

"We are not looking for tourist attractions but people and events — maybe related to Costa Rica and it's icons, i.e. playful monkeys, languid sloths, crocodiles, lizards, poison-dart frogs, sea turtles, jungle cats, zip lines (flying fox), boiling volcanoes, surf oversized waves, dolphins, whales, etc.

She said that Dark went on two such trips last year and found, among other oddities in Australia, a town where every second person has a 30-cm. beard (about 12 inches) and grandmothers who pose nude for a town's annual calendar!

In Scandinavia, Dark covered a moose rodeo and modern Vikings.

Ms. Mattiske notes that such coverage could be good for local tourism. She may be reached at FMATTISKE@nine.com.au. The show’s Web site is: www.ninemsn.com.au/getaway.

Latin leadership praised
for improved economies

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON D.C. — Improved policies and strong leadership in Latin America explain why the region's economies have improved in recent years, says John Taylor, the U.S. Treasury Department's under secretary for international affairs.

Taylor spoke Sunday at a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Okinawa, Japan. He said economic reforms in the region have built financial stability and confidence, "leading to increasing capital flows, higher levels of investment, and rapid export growth."

Continued economic expansion in Latin America is expected, Taylor said. Private forecasters foresee growth of 4 percent in 2005, following growth of almost 6 percent in 2004, the region's fastest growth in 25 years, added Taylor.

Taylor said Latin America's improved economy is "good news, but we all know the region can and should do better." He said that decades of sustained high growth are needed to bring down high poverty rates in Latin America.

The region faces two major challenges for sustained growth, Taylor said. The first challenge, he argued, is to "lock in" recent improvements in macroeconomic policy by putting in place "fiscal-responsibility regimes that discipline budget planning and execution" and by supporting what have proven to be "successful low-inflation monetary policies."

The second challenge, Taylor said, is to concentrate on "microeconomic reform, including trade liberalization and the reduction of burdensome regulation, in order to unleash job creation by entrepreneurs both small and large."

The United States, he said, is working to ensure progress on such goals as expanding small-business lending, reducing the time to start a business, promoting "high-return infrastructure growth," and reducing the costs of sending money transfers by migrants working in the United States to their families back home in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Dog finds suspicious powder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers intercepted this morning what they identified as nine kilos (nearly 20 pounds) of cocaine when they stopped a car near Guaycará de Golfito.

Officers said the driver, identified by the last names of Brenes Sandoval, is a resident of Guadalupe de Goicoechea in San José and appeared to be bound for the capital.

The suspicious cargo was found under a car seat by a dog attached to the Unidad Canina, said officers.

Stolen motorcycles sought

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents of Aserrí and Acosta have been complaining that motorcycles in the area are vanishing. So police set up roadblocks over the last two days in the area.

The result was the discovery of six vehicles in which the identification numbers had been altered.

Checkpoints were set up at La Lucha, Frailes, Tarbaca, the center of Aserrí, Vuelta de Jorco, the center of Acosta and a location known as La Fila, said officers.

Eduardo Guzmán, comandante of the Policía Metropolitana de Proximidad, said that more than 100 vehicles were checked.

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Voting to fill OAS top post ends in a two-way tie
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Delegates at the Organization of American States have failed to elect a new secretary-general after five secret ballots and put off the next round of voting until May 2. The votes were evenly split between the candidates from Chile and Mexico.

Delegates held five separate votes in an effort to choose a new secretary general for the 34-nation group. But each time neither candidate got the requisite 18 votes.

Chile's Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza and Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez each received 17. 

Delegates then agreed to reconvene on May 2 to try again in the hope a new candidate will come forward to help break the deadlock. Officials from Mexico and Chile say their candidates will continue to seek the top post.

The office of secretary general has been vacant since last October, when Miguel Ángel Rodriguez, the former Costa Rican president, resigned shortly after taking office to face corruption charges at home. He had been the first diplomat from Central America in the post in 60 years.

El Salvador's Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez says control of the organization's top job shouldn't be seen as a struggle between Central and South America. 

He says some South American nations voted for the Mexican candidate, while some Caribbean nations voted for Chile's. He says the democratic process allows each member nation to support what it feels is most important for the hemisphere.

Monday's balloting was secret, but afterwards U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said Washington is supporting Mexico's candidate. "I see no reason the United States would not continue its support for Minister Derbez," he said.

Derbez is an economist and former employee of the World Bank, while Insulza has worked as a lawyer and served in the government of Socialist President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in 1973 in a coup many believe was engineered by the United States.

A third candidate with strong U.S. backing, former El Salvador president Francisco Flores, dropped out of the race last Friday. 

The main task of the organization in recent years has been to support democracy in the Western Hemisphere. All its 34 members, except Haiti, have an elected government. Cuba was kicked out of the organization in 1962.

A third candidate with strong U.S. backing, former El Salvador president Francisco Flores, dropped out of the race last Friday. 


 
Tax veto causes two international agencies to freeze aid to Niacaragua
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Inter-American Development have frozen $50 million in loans and credits to the government of Nicaragua. The aid freeze is a response to the failure of the government to close a $10 million current account deficit and contain future government spending.

The suspension of payments is a bitter measure for the Bolaños government after it gained a hard-fought victory to increase taxes in negotiations with the banking, casino and mining industries. These industries are among the most powerful lobbying groups in Nicaragua, and many analysts discounted the possibility of a successful reform with tax increases in all three sectors in one bill. 

The pundits were proven wrong when a virtually unanimous assembly vote passed the negotiated tax law which had previously received Monetary Fund approval as a major part of the resolution of the fiscal deficit. 

The freezing of funding by the Monetary Fund resulted from the modification of the same tax reform law by the national assembly while the bill was on the floor. The bill was modified by creating for the first time in modern Nicaraguan history importation taxes for goods and equipment for media companies. This rider to the measure caused President Enrique Bolaños to issue a partial veto that kept the tax measures from going into effect.

This tax increase is called the "Arce Law" in reference to Frente Sandinista Deputy Bayardo Arce, a former employee of La Prensa newspaper and now president of the Economic Commission for the assembly. Arce personally sponsored and later engineered the import tax bill to passage despite overwhelming opposition by media lobby groups and the largest newspapers and television stations in Nicaragua. 

Opponents of the law described the measure as 

punitive and an attempt to muzzle freedom of expression by the assembly. The media have been a harsh critic of the national assembly, which is controlled by political groups led by former President and convicted money launderer Arnoldo Aleman and the Frente Sandinista Secretary General Daniel Ortega.

Deputies and other supporters of the media importation tax law have countered by pointing out that the largest television station in the country has accumulated an impressive vehicle fleet and over $2 million of new transmission equipment without paying importation taxes. Newspaper company capital equipment purchasing has also dramatically increased, and all importations of capital goods such as printing presses and newsprint had previously been exempt from tax.

Upon reception of the bill with the media tax increase, President Bolaños partially vetoed his own tax measure which left all of the new tax law without effect until the veto is resolved. 

Since media taxation is highly controversial, the veto will first be sent for committee study to the Economic Commission (controlled by Arce) and later submitted for a vote late next month. In the interim no new taxes are being collected from the banks, casinos and mine operators and the Monetary Fund has hardened its position due to the failure of the Nicaraguan government to complete it's promise to close the deficit gap.

The frozen $50 million was to be used for poverty reduction and infrastructure programs such as roads and energy projects. In the event that the matter is not resolved rapidly Nicaragua runs the risk of an unsatisfactory review in the April and May meetings with the Monetary Fund and could be ultimately removed from scheduled debt relief.

This prospect would be devastating for the Nicaraguan economy which is only now rebuilding and showing signs of progress after decades of stagnation in the 1980s and early 1990s.


 
In case you missed it:
A.M. Costa Rica, April 5, 2005
Our readership more than doubles in one year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica set another readership record in March when the newspaper registered 2.16 million hits. That was a 22.9 percent increase over February and a 106 percent increase over March 2004, the first month the newspaper exceeded a million hits.

Other statistics had similar increases.

Some 397,368 individual pages were viewed by 99,351 readers. And 45,435 of those readers were registered as unique, which means they were only counted once regardless of how many times they visited the pages in a single day. 

The statistics are maintained by the Internet service provider in the United States where A.M. Costa Rica is hosted. The hosting company keeps track of visits independent of A.M. Costa Rica.

The statistical programs screen out hits and visits by mechanical means, other computers and automated Web crawlers.

The statistics show that the average viewer sees about four pages at every visit to the paper. 

Said Jay Brodell, editor:

"Our dramatic increase in readership over the last three and a half years is no surprise to our advertisers who are getting more and more business from the wave of retirees and would-be retirees who are looking at Costa Rica as a new home and need solid, daily information.

"It’s a new world, and our progressive advertisers recognize that."

A.M. Costa Rica statistics are available on a page that is updated every month HERE!


 
N.J. teacher gets 60 months in FBI sex tourism sting
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

MIAMI, Fla. — Another defendant has been sentenced on a charge stemming from a phony sex travel agency run by federal officials. At the same time, law enforcement agents here said that workers at the U.S. Embassy in San José, Costa Rica, played a role in setting up the sting.

The announcement of the sentencing came from Marcos Daniel Jiménez, U. S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael S. Clemens, special agent in charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The defendant is George C. Clarke, who was sentenced by U. S. District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga to 60 months imprisonment. Clarke was convicted in January by a federal jury of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with minors.

Clarke, 43, was a math and science school teacher in Westfield, N.J., before his arrest in August.

Some 11 defendants in 10 cases were arrested after using the Web-based travel agency to set up appointments with underage girls in Costa Rica. None of the defendants traveled outside the United States. Some 10 were taken off aircraft as they were about to leave on what they thought was a sex encounter in Costa Rica.

The undercover operation, called Operation Turn Around, was led by the FBI, with the assistance of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Costa Rican security ministry agents.

A report on the sentencing of Clarke was the first confirmation that embassy employees here also were involved in the sting. The operation was set up to address the problem of U. S. citizens traveling to Central American countries to engage in sex with minor children, said the office of Jiménez.

The Web page and phony travel agency were not without criticisms. Lawyers for some of those caught in the sting said the operation was entrapment. A.M. Costa Rica editorialized that the Web page encourages sex tours to Costa Rica by people who many never contact the fake travel agency.

The existence of the operation came out at trials in the United States and was confirmed here by a security ministry investigator Thursday. Until then, the office of U.S. Attorney Jiménez and the FBI declined comment about the operation.

The Web page was hosted in Fort Lauderdale. The page no longer is available on the Internet. A photo accompanying these articles came from an archive service.


 
Summary of cases generated by phony sex tour agency
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

MIAMI, Fla. — Here is a summary of the cases of Operation Turn Around as provided by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The operation involved the FBI's creation of an undercover travel agency that offered travel packages to Costa Rica that purportedly included the sexual services of minors.  Ten prosecutions charging a total of 11 defendants resulted from the operation.  The 11 defendants attempted to travel to Costa Rica to engage in commercial sex acts with children. 

All 11 defendants were convicted, four at trial and seven by plea.  The 11 defendants included a police officer, a middle school teacher, a carnival worker, and a real estate agent.  Below is a summary of the 10 prosecutions:

United States v. John Bollea

John Bollea, a 70-year-old male from Lighthouse Point, Fla., was arrested in Miami on Dec. 20, 2003, after he boarded a flight en route to Costa Rica.  Prior to his arrest, Bollea communicated with the undercover travel agency, making arrangements to engage in sexual activity with a minor child upon his arrival in Costa Rica.  Prior to his departure, Bollea paid for the sexual services of the minor child.  On April 2, 2004, Bollea pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(e).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melanie Allen.

United States v. Mark Dudley

Mark Dudley, a 49-year-old male, worked as a food vendor at local carnivals prior to his arrest on Jan. 19, 2004.  Dudley, a native of Daytona Beach, Fla., engaged in several conversations with the undercover travel agency before paying for the sexual services of a minor. The minor female was to be delivered to Dudley upon his arrival in Costa Rica on Jan. 19. Dudley was arrested in Miami when he attempted to board a flight en route to San José, Costa Rica. Dudley entered a guilty plea on April 26, 2004, to one count of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(e).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Erskine.

United States v. Thomas and Christine Taylor

Thomas Taylor, a 52-year-old male, was employed as a realtor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Myrtle Beach, S. C., at the time of his arrest.  Thomas' wife, Christine Taylor, a 42-year-old female, was a housewife in Myrtle Beach, S. C., at the time of her arrest.  The Taylors were arrested on Jan. 16, 2004, when they boarded a Carnival Cruise ship en route to San José, Costa Rica.  In the weeks prior to their arrest, Tom Taylor had numerous conversations with an undercover officer in which he made arrangements and paid to have two 16-year-old girls delivered to a hotel room in Costa Rica to engage in sexual relations with his wife, Christine. On April 22, 2004, Tom and Christine Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel in foreign commerce with the intent to engage in sexual acts with minors, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(e).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Erskine.

United States v. Glenn Koenemann

Glenn Koenemann, a 56-year-old male, was arrested on Jan. 20, 2004.  At the time of his arrest, Koenemann was working as an arborist in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Koenemann sent a letter to the undercover travel agency requesting information about young sexual companions in Costa Rica.  In subsequent conversations, Koenemann requested the sexual services of a 14-year-old female and agreed to pay $425 for the same. He also requested the sexual services of a 16-year-old female for a portion of his trip to Costa Rica, stating that he needed an older girl to accompany him to the beach area without drawing unwanted attention. 

Koenemann was arrested when he boarded a flight en route to San José, Costa Rica.  On April 23, 2004, the defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(e), and one count of attempting to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(a).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Erskine.

United States v. Gerald Alter

Gerald Alter, a 68-year-old male from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was employed as a furniture salesperson in Sunrise, Fla., at the time of his arrest.  Alter was arrested after communicating with the undercover travel agency via telephone and e-mail in order to arrange for the sexual services of a 14-year-old female.  Prior to his arrest on April 19, 2004, Alter paid an undercover agent to have a 14-year-old child delivered to his hotel room in San José, Costa Rica to engage in prostitution.  Alter later pleaded guilty to one (1) count of knowingly receiving child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Erskine.

United States v. James Marquez

James Marquez, a 47-year-old male, was employed at the International Game Fishing Hall of Fame in Fort  Lauderdale, Fla., at the time of his arrest.  Marquez was arrested on June 17, 2004, after he paid an undercover agent to have a 14-year-old girl delivered to a hotel room. Marquez made arrangements to have the girl engage in sexual acts upon delivery to the hotel.  Marquez paid $1,080 for the trip to Costa Rica, including the sexual services of the child. 

At the time of his arrest, Marquez was carrying costume jewelry for the  girl, condoms, and disposable cameras. 

Web page has been taken down

On Oct. 6, 2004, Marquez entered a guilty plea to one count of attempting to induce a minor child to engage in prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Axelrod.

United States v. Derek Roberts

Derek Roberts, a 30-year-old male, was employed as a police officer at the Hollywood Police Department at the time of his arrest on June 10, 2004.  Roberts was arrested in a hotel room in Miami, Fla., after he made final payment to an undercover agent for the sexual services of two 16-year-old girls. 

Roberts initially made plans to travel to Costa Rica and have the girls delivered to a hotel room in San José; however, he later changed his mind about traveling to a foreign country and requested that the undercover agent transport the girls from Costa Rica to Miami. 

At the time of his arrest, Roberts was carrying condoms, sexual stimulants, sexual lubricant, and jewelry for the two minor girls.  After a jury trial, Roberts was found guilty of attempting to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor child, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(a).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Stamm and Stefanie Moon.

United States v. Wallace David Strevell

Wallace David Strevell, a 33-year-old male from Exton, Pa., was employed as a bartender at the time of his arrest on July 11, 2004.  Strevell was arrested after he made arrangements with the undercover travel agent to have two 14-year-old girls delivered to his hotel room in Costa Rica. Strevell paid the undercover agent $955 for a trip to Costa Rica that included the sexual services of two 14-year-old females. 

At the time of his arrest, Strevell was carrying condoms and a battery-operated sexual stimulator in his carry-on bag. After a jury trial, Strevell was convicted of violations of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(e), attempting to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(a), and attempting to induce a minor child to engage in prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Axelrod and Matthew Menchel.

United States v. Vincent Springer

Vincent Springer, a 42-year-old male from Vero Beach, Fla., was employed as a mechanic at the time of his arrest on July 16, 2004.  In the weeks leading to his arrest, Springer paid $931 to the undercover travel agency for a trip to Costa Rica that included sexual activity with two girls, ages 14 and 15. When interviewed by agents at the time of his arrest, Springer admitted that he intended to try to negotiate for additional girls after his arrival in San José, Costa Rica. 

A search of Springer's carry-on luggage revealed the following items: condoms, sexual lubricants, gifts for the girls (lip gloss, jewelry, lotion, etc.) and bubble bath.  After a jury trial, Springer was found guilty of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 2423(e), attempting to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(a), and attempting to induce a minor child to engage in prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(b).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marc Osborne and Matthew Menchel.

United States v. George C. Clarke

George C. Clarke, a 43-year-old male from Westfield, N.J., was employed as a middle school math and science teacher at the time of his arrest.  Clarke was arrested at Miami International Airport in August 2004 when he attempted to board a plane bound for Costa Rica. Clarke's arrest was the result of his ongoing conversations with the undercover travel agency that culminated in his payment of $1,610 for a trip to Costa Rica that would include the sexual services of two 12-year-old girls. 

Clarke repeatedly requested the sexual services of the young girls, and at times specified the sexual acts he would be asking them to perform. At the time of his arrest, Clarke was carrying condoms in his luggage. 

In January, 2005, Clarke was found guilty by a federal jury in Miami of attempting to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual relations with a minor, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 2423(e), attempting to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 1594(a), and attempting to induce a minor child to engage in prostitution, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 2422(b). 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Axelrod and Trial Attorney Dana Gershengorn, who is with the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section the Department of Justice.


 
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