A Kennewick sex offender who tried to meet up with a 14-year-old girl for sex after a series of online chats is going to federal prison for 10 years.
While Thomas E. Lafontaine, 35, believed he was communicating with a young teen, but the girl actually was an undercover officer with Homeland Security Investigations.
Lafontaine was arrested after circling their meeting spot for 30 minutes and chastising the girl through his phone for standing him up.
At his sentencing in Richland’s U.S. District Court, Lafontaine said he was “disgusted and ashamed” of his actions, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a minor.
Lafontaine responded to a personals ad in late 2014 and started chatting with the girl, graphically describing different sex acts he would like to perform, according to the news release.
The ad was placed by the undercover officer who was posing as the teen while working with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children unit.
Lafontaine already was a registered sex offender.
Investigators later found evidence on Lafontaine’s electronic devices that he was talking to at least three other minors about sexual acts. Those real kids were ages 12 to 14, the release said.
Senior Judge Ed Shea said Lafontaine posed a “genuine threat to the public” because he went beyond the online discussions and actually got in his car intending to meet a child for sex, the release said.
Lafontaine’s prison term will be followed by 25 years on court supervision.
“This investigation is yet another demonstration of the dedication of law enforcement officers and their willingness to ferret out those who intend to victimize children,” said U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby.