Mammoth Lakes Man Sentenced for Enticement of a 14-year-old

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gene Wayne Harris, 42, resident of Mammoth Lakes, California, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. to 15 years, 8 months in prison, to be followed by a life time period of supervised release, for attempted enticement of a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to the plea agreement, on March 1, 2013, an 18-year-old girl from Mammoth Lakes received an unsolicited Facebook friend request from Harris. Before accepting the request, the girl looked up Harris and learned that he was a registered sex offender, having previously been convicted in Inyo County of sexual battery. At law enforcement’s direction, the girl responded to Harris through Facebook and an Internet-based text messaging service, and told him that she was only 14 years old. Harris acknowledged that the girl was 14, even commenting that her Facebook post says she is older. Harris also made comments during his initial online chats with the girl that he could get in trouble if anyone found out they were talking.

Law enforcement assumed control of the 18-year-old’s account. During this time, Harris’s communications with the girl turned sexual, including requests by Harris for her to take sexually explicit pictures of herself. Plans were made for Harris and the girl to meet in Mammoth or Bridgeport, and the girl asked Harris to bring alcohol and condoms.

On March 8, 2013, Harris checked in to a Mammoth motel and waited for the 14-year-old girl to arrive. While waiting, Harris communicated through text with law enforcement (posing as the girl), texting at one point that he could “get in trouble for what I am about to do, but it is worth it.” Law enforcement sent Harris a text while he was at the motel asking him to get something to drink and a candy bar. Harris was arrested while walking back to the motel from a convenience store with the drink and candy bar. Located in the motel room were condoms and alcohol.

At sentencing, Judge England stated that the defendant’s criminal history involving allegations of the sexual exploitation of at least three other minors “showed a pattern [of criminal behavior] that has continued [unabated] for over 12 years.”  Judge England went on to say that his sentence would “serve to protect the public from future conduct” by the defendant, and “be a deterrent for others who engage in this type of conduct.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mono County District Attorney’s Office, and the Mammoth Lakes Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Mono County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Reardon is prosecuting the case.