Police Say Chicago Arrest Key To Uncovering Pedophile Network
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A convicted Chicago sex offender gave Tampa police the break needed to crack a pedophile network offering sex-for-hire with young boys, court records show.
Authorities say the underground network operated for about eight years, selling the services of boys, ages 11 to 16, for as much as $1,000 a session.
Police say tips generated from their case have prompted them to contact the FBI and law enforcement agencies in Pinellas, Volusia and Orange counties. They said they believe customers from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Denver became involved in Tampa’s clandestine organization for pedophiles.
″This is going to be going on for months,″ predicted Tampa Detective Bob Sheehan.
So far, four people have been arrested in the case, which became public Wednesday.
Three were Floridians. The other, a Chicago businessman on probation for a 1985 sexual abuse conviction, was arrested after detectives received a tip from a Tampa woman who became suspicious when she overheard one of her 11- year-old sons talking on the telephone.
Stanley Irving Lansing, 57, had met the boy and his twin brother at least once before, according to charges filed by prosecutors. Detectives had the boys arrange another rendezvous, and Lansing was arrested April 9.
From Lansing, the case widened to three other men, including Michael David ″Wesley″ Gonzalez, 26, of Daytona Beach. Police say he is believed to have arranged sexual encounters between men and boys for years.
Lansing, of Highland Park, Ill., was charged with four counts of sexual battery on a child under 12. He pleaded guilty June 22 to two lesser charges of attempted sexual battery and agreed to testify in exchange for a 15-year prison term.
Lansing had faced the possibility of four life sentences with no chance of parole for 100 years with his original charges: four counts of sexual battery on a child under 12.
In Chicago, some adolescent boys in poor neighborhoods knew Lansing as the man with a red Mercedes who flashed lots of money, the St. Petersburg Times reported Friday. He was convicted of buying sex from four young boys in Chicago in 1985, placed on probation for three years and ordered to stay away from children, the Times said.
Gonzalez, an aircraft electronics technician, was arrested June 28 in Volusia County and charged with sexual battery, procuring a minor for prostitution and deriving support from prostitution. Prosecutors say he arranged to sell the sexual services of an 11-year-old boy at a hotel in March.
Larry Richard Gorman, 38, a Tampa car salesman, was arrested June 9 and charged with having sexual activity with a child.
Michael Leroy Johnson, 30, of Tampa, a paint company branch manager, was arrested June 28 and charged with two instances of lewd and lascivious acts in the presence of a child under 16.
Gonzalez is being held without bail. Lansing is being held awaiting sentencing Sept. 7. Gorman and Johnson were each released on $5,000 bail.