Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charges dropped in Tampa in 'PlayStation Predator' case

Tony McLeod, 36, of Tampa will be extradited to California.

Tony McLeod, 36, of Tampa will be extradited to California.

TAMPA — Prosecutors are dropping charges in Florida against the man accused of seducing a 14-year-old California boy through online video games and flying with him across the country to Tampa, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office said Thursday.

Tony Lee McLeod, a 36-year-old Tampa resident who once trained as a police cadet, still faces out-of-state charges brought by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California.

When Tampa police officers arrested McLeod earlier this month, they booked him on charges including kidnapping, interference with custody and transmission of harmful material to a minor. On Wednesday, however, he was transported from the Hillsborough County jail system into federal custody in Pinellas County.

Because McLeod's rendezvous with the boy took place in California, it makes sense for the prosecution to proceed there, said Mark Cox, a Hillsborough State Attorney's Office spokesman.

"We're going to drop our charges here," Cox said. "The witnesses, and pretty much the case, are out there."

McLeod waived his right to challenge his extradition at a Hillsborough Circuit Court hearing earlier this week, setting the stage for his transportation to California. Police in Escondido, Calif. — the boy's hometown — said Thursday it is unclear when McLeod will be moved.

In Southern California, he faces state charges including child abduction and meeting with a minor to commit a sex offense, as well as a federal charge of enticement of a minor. The federal count carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction.

Authorities say McLeod made initial contact with the boy playing online PlayStation games, and then began sending him explicit text messages from across the country. The federal complaint states that he wrote to the boy that he "loves" him and "I don't like you being there."

After sending a naked photograph of himself, according to the complaint, McLeod gave the boy an odd lecture on his personal interpretation of the age of consent, writing in a text message that "California state statute basically says that a person 14 years of age or older is competent enough to make decisions of where they're going t(o) live including emancipation and its guidelines I sent you are at the bottom of the link."

The boy's parents reported him missing June 10. Police in California tracked McLeod to an airport by zeroing in on his cellphone and deduced he was returning with the victim to Tampa.

Law enforcement officials arrested McLeod when he and the boy — traveling under the name "Justin McLeod" — debarked from a jet June 11 at Tampa International Airport.

The boy was returned home, and McLeod was jailed.

Staff writer Will Hobson contributed to this report.

Charges dropped in Tampa in 'PlayStation Predator' case 06/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.