ST. GEORGE — A former detective with the Mesquite Police Department accused in federal court of sexually exploiting a St. George teen has been sentenced under a stipulated sentence at a hearing held earlier this week.
Gary Erickson, 51, of Bunkerville, Nevada, appeared in U.S. District Court in St. George on one count of intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Judge Paul D. Kohler sentenced the defendant to serve 60 months in federal prison. During a hearing held June 6, Erikson pleaded guilty to the charge under a stipulated plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office.
The defendant was charged on May 13, 2019, when U.S. Attorney Jay Winward filed a criminal information document after the defendant waived his right to the filing of a federal indictment, which would have required a grand jury proceeding. The following month during the plea hearing the judge ordered that Erickson undergo a psychosexual evaluation prior to sentencing.
He was arrested in September 2018 after the parents of a 15-year-old boy in St. George contacted police saying their son had been involved in “sending and receiving nude photographs to (and) from an unknown adult male,” according to the affidavit filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
In an interview at the Children’s Justice Center, the teen said he met Erickson, whom he knew as “Eric Smith,” through Grindr, an LGBTQ dating social media app. He said that the two of them had eventually arranged to meet, at which time they allegedly engaged in sexual acts even though Erickson reportedly knew the boy was a minor.
The teen gave police a description, and Erickson became a suspect after he was positively identified in a photo lineup several days later. He was arrested on Sept. 12 and subsequently terminated from his job at the Mesquite Police Department.
Originally, he was charged by the Washington County Attorney’s Office with three second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a third-degree felony for dealing in materials harmful to a minor and a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse of a minor. Those charges were dropped when the case was handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The court recommended that Erickson be housed in the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin, a low-security facility in Alameda County just east of Oakland, California; however, that facility now holds female offenders only. The defendant will likely be housed in the court’s alternate facility, Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado, which is 10 miles southeast of Denver in Jefferson County.
It is also the facility where Jared Fogle, former mascot for Subway sandwich restaurants, is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to traveling across state lines to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors and receiving child pornography in December 2015.
Erickson will be back in federal court April 2 when the term of post-prison supervision and parole requirements will be addressed.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.