James Edward Sanders chatted online for several weeks with someone he thought was a woman willing to let him have sex with her two underage daughters, according to authorities.
The former Oklahoma law enforcement officer packed his car and made the two-day drive to Florida. Once here, he planned to meet the woman and her girls.
Instead, Sanders found himself caught in a sting.
Pinellas County sheriff's detectives arrested the 58-year-old Sanders on Wednesday. He faces charges of one count of using prohibited computer services and one count of traveling to meet a minor. He is being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Sanders, whose last known address is in Oklahoma City, began communicating online with an undercover detective Jan. 7, according to the Pinellas Sheriff's Crimes Against Children unit. He thought one of the girls he'd be meeting was under 16 and the other under 12, authorities said.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said it appeared Sanders "drove here with his vehicle loaded with the intent of moving to Pinellas County." After arriving in Florida, Sanders went to an undisclosed prearranged north Pinellas County location to meet the females, and was arrested at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Sanders declined a Times interview request.
Sanders worked for the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office in Oklahoma as a transporter deputy for two years but was terminated by Sheriff Joe Lester, who took office Jan. 2, spokesman Rhett Burnett said. Lester did not think Sanders would be a good fit with the new administration, Burnett said.
Sanders previously worked for the Oklahoma Park Services.
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4156.