Thomas Andrew Quinton Pleads Guilty In U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 12, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, THOMAS ANDREW QUINTON, a 32-year-old resident of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, pled guilty to travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Sentencing has been set for February 7, 2014. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Lahr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
In June 2013, members of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in Great Falls conducted a "catch the predator" operation. An advertisement was posted on Craigslist in an attempt to target individuals in Great Falls and the surrounding area who were interested in engaging in sexual conduct with a minor child.
On June 24, 2013, an agent posted one such ad and received numerous responses. The agent then used an undercover persona to pose as a fictitious person named Teresa Smith, a 38-year-old female in Great Falls living with her 12-year-old niece, Katie Smith. The agent exchanged several e-mails with an individual responding to the ad who ultimately identified himself as Thomas Andrew Quinton, a Canadian citizen. The e-mails from QUINTON contained descriptions of sexual acts QUINTON wanted to engage in with Katie. QUINTON also sent a photograph of himself and two more of his penis.
Beginning July 2, 2013, QUINTON began texting the agent stating that he would be taking time off work. The agent exchanged 375 text messages with QUINTON between July 2, 2013, and July 3, 2013. Many of the text messages contained descriptions of sexual acts or were of a sexual nature. QUINTON was advised on multiple occasions via text and e-mail that Katie was a 12-year-old girl.
The telephone number QUINTON used was identified as a Canadian-based number out of Lethbridge, Alberta.
QUINTON was given the address of the house being utilized by ICAC Task Force agents for the operation, and QUINTON agreed to travel to the residence to engage in sexual conduct with Katie.
At around 4:15 p.m. on July 3, 2013, QUINTON parked his truck at the residence and walked to the house where he was arrested and taken into state custody charged with sexual abuse of children.
The agent and a Great Falls Police detective interviewed QUINTON who stated that he had traveled from Lethbridge to Great Falls on July 3, 2013, to have sex with Katie. He confirmed his cellular phone number was the number used for the text messaging and that he had corresponded via text messaging and e-mails with Teresa and Katie for the purpose of meeting Katie and engaging in sexual acts. The agent also confirmed that QUINTON and his vehicle had entered the United States at the Sweetgrass Port of Entry on July 3, 2013, at 2:28 p.m.
QUINTON faces possible penalties of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervision.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and the Great Falls Police Department.