Samuel Henry Vinci, 55, of Granite Falls, a registered sex offender since his 1998 conviction for second-degree rape, was sentenced to 19 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to soliciting sex online with a person he believed to be a 15-year-old girl.
After serving 11 years for his rape conviction, Vinci was required to give law enforcement officials his email addresses and other online identifiers.
But prosecutors say that in September 2014, Vinci created a social media webpage and operated it under a fictitious name. He befriended someone he thought was 15 years old but was really an undercover law enforcement officer.
Vinci began to push his new friend to have sex with him, then sent instructions on how to delete their conversation to avoid discovery. When he drove to meet the girl, law enforcement was waiting.
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The case was investigated by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
Vinci pleaded guilty in October to one of count of online solicitation of a minor. U.S. District Judge Richard Vorhees sentenced him Tuesday to 235 months in prison. After he is released, he must continue registering as a sex offender and will spend the rest of his life under court supervision.
The case was brought under Project Safe Childhood, a 10-year effort led by the Justice Department to combat child sex exploitation and abuse.