Maui man guilty of attempt to lure minor on Internet
By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer
A federal court jury deliberated for about a day and a half before finding a Maui man guilty yesterday of using the Internet in an attempt to entice a minor into having sex with him.
In addition, Thomas Schnepper, 38, of Lahaina, was found guilty of six counts of using the Internet in an attempt to transmit pornographic images to a minor.
The jury found him not guilty on a single count of using the Internet in an attempt to transmit an image of minors engaged in sexual activity to someone younger than 18.
Schnepper will face up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 29 by Judge Alan Kay. Federal guidelines will be used to determine his sentence, which likely will be considerably shorter than the maximum allowed.
He was accused of chatting on the Internet over several months with someone he thought was a 15-year-old Wyoming girl named Mandy, with the expectation that she would arrive at Kahului Airport on Feb. 14, 2002, to have sex with him.
But "Mandy" turned out to be a federal agent working with the Wyoming attorney general's office as a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
When "Mandy" said she was coming to O'ahu with her grandmother, Schnepper offered to pay her plane fare to visit him on Maui and have sex, according to testimony during the trial.
Schnepper was arrested after he drove to Kahului Airport to meet the nonexistent girl.
"Mandy" was federal agent Flint Waters, a bearded, middle-age man who had never met Schnepper before the trial.
Schnepper's lawyer, Richard Kawana, said he plans to appeal.
"Mr. Schnepper is very disappointed with the verdict," Kawana said.
"He believes the evidence presented at trial showed that he did not really believe the person he was conversing with (on the Internet) was a minor."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Tong prosecuted the case.
Reach David Waite at email@example.com or 525-8030.