Feds charge man accused of trying to buy girl for sex

CUYAHOGA FALLS -- The Cuyahoga Falls man accused of trying to buy a 10-year-old girl from an undercover officer has been charged federally.

The Cleveland Division of the FBI says 36-year-old Robert W. Thomas was transferred into federal custody Wednesday morning.

He has an initial appearance at 1:30 p.m. in Akron.

It was on Jan. 11 when detectives from the Alliance Police Department arrested Thomas after allegedly attempting to purchase the girl so he could keep her for sexual purposes.

Authorities say Thomas had posted online asking for anyone willing to arrange a "marriage" of their daughter to him. An Alliance officer assigned with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force responded and began the conversation.

Without knowing it was an undercover officer, authorities say Thomas agreed to meet and complete his transaction.

Ultimately, Thomas was arrested when he arrived for the purchase in the 2300 block of West State Street in Alliance.

Thomas, who reportedly had $400 cash in his hand, was transported to the Stark County Jail and held on a $2 million bond.

READ | Neighbors shocked after man accused of trying to buy child for sex

He was initially charged with trafficking in persons, attempted kidnapping, attempted rape and possessing criminal tools.

The FBI and the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department provided assistance to the Alliance Police Department during the arrest and the subsequent search warrant conducted at Thomas' residence.

After intensive review with consideration given to the nature and the seriousness of the offense, the investigative team and prosecutors deemed it appropriate to file federal charges.

On Tuesday, a federal arrest warrant was authorized charging Robert W. Thomas with one count of Title 18 U.S.C. 2251 A(b)(2)(A), which is the selling or buying of children.

"This case is the result of outstanding investigative work completed by the Alliance Police Department and its partners," says Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Mr. Thomas should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and these federal charges will ensure justice is served. Law enforcement will continue to proactively and aggressively pursue predators that intend to harm our children."

Alliance's Law Director, Jennifer L. Arnold, commended all the agencies involved.

"While the investigation moved quickly with the Alliance police, the FBI, the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department and Judge Lisa Coates of the Stow Municipal Court assisted to ensure that this matter was done with professionalism. This matter received the highest priority treatment by all agencies as warranted by a case of this nature."


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