SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - A 58-year-old retired Nevada corrections officer was arrested here on suspicion of attempted child molestation for allegedly propositioning what he thought was a 13-year-old girl over the Internet.
Timothy Randall, of Carson City, allegedly intended to meet an eighth-grader for sex, according to authorities.
"He was arrested right in front of Radio Shack," said Chris Campion, an FBI agent in the South Lake Tahoe field office. "He was picking her up after school, or that's what he thought he was doing."
Unbeknownst to Randall, the "girl" he met in a Yahoo! Northern Nevada chat room six months ago was actually a law enforcement officer. Randall's arrest was the result of a joint operation between the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, FBI and Perverted Justice, an organization that captures sexual predators.
South Lake police detective Chuck Owens, who is assigned to the FBI's task force, helped arrest Randall at gunpoint. Owens said at the time of Randall's arrest, the man was in his Ford Focus talking on his cell phone to the "girl."
Randall checked himself into a motel room Wednesday night. Authorities gathered items in the room and in Randall's car but would not identify them.
Randall is free on $50,000 bail.
His arraignment, where he will enter a plea to his charges in Eldorado County Justice Court, should be scheduled soon. Randall is widowed and has grown children, Campion said. He has no criminal background.
Besides attempted child molestation, Randall was also charged with attempted sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 14 and procuring a person by force or false inducement.
Since Randall crossed a state line for the alleged intent of having sex with a minor, he can be charged in federal court, which has stricter penalties than state laws.
Campion said Randall sent nude images of himself to the "girl" and "some sexually suggestive pornographic images as well."
A meeting was first arranged in February or March, but the night before the encounter, Randall allegedly saw a "Dateline" special on sexual predators and became fearful enough to cancel the meeting, Campion said.
Members of Perverted Justice acted as the girl during the course of the Internet conversations with Randall on three different chat rooms, Owens said.
"They go up on the chat rooms, say 'hello' and are almost immediately approached by all sorts of different people, including older men," Campion said.
• Contact reporter William Ferchland at email@example.com.