THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Monday, December 4, 2006

Grand Jury Indicts Three Sexual Predators Caught By Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit

HOUSTON Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Montgomery County District Attorney Michael A. McDougal today announced grand jury indictments against three men who used Internet chat rooms and Web sites, including MySpace.com, to meet and sexually proposition undercover investigators who had assumed the online identities of young children.

Guadalupe Wally DeLaGarza, III, 26, of College Station; Robert Wayne Ramirez, 40, of Needville and William Noel Shrum, 25, of the Woodlands, were arrested last July during a joint undercover operation launched by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit and the Shenandoah Police Department. The three men were indicted Nov. 30 for attempting to sexually assault children they met on the Internet.

Texas will not tolerate criminals who prey upon children," said Attorney General Abbott. "The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue protecting young Texans by aggressively cracking down on sexual predators. Thanks to cooperative efforts by the Shenandoah Police Department, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office and the investigators and prosecutors in the Cyber Crimes Unit, these dangerous predators were brought to justice.

DeLaGarza, who indicated he was a graduate student at Texas A&M University, was indicted on one count each of attempted sexual assault and attempted sexual performance by a child, both third degree felonies. He was arrested on July 18 after he arrived at a Shenandoah location with a digital camera, rope restraints, and a handgun. The grand jury indicted DeLaGarza for using MySpace.com to meet someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with that girl, and subsequently arranging a time and place where he planned to commit a sexual assault.

Ramirez, a long-haul truck driver at the time of his arrest, used a laptop computer at a Houston truck stop to chat online with an undercover investigator that he believed was a 14-year-old girl. On July 18, Ramirez traveled to Shenandoah, where he planned to meet and sexually assault the "girl he had chatted with online. Ramirez was indicted on four third degree felony counts, including one count each of attempted sexual assault and attempted sexual performance by a child and two counts of online solicitation of a minor.

On July 13, Shrum was arrested in Shenandoah after arriving at a pre-arranged location to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. At the time of his arrest, Shrum was employed in The Woodlands as a night maintenance worker at a church, which also runs an elementary school. Shrum was indicted on one count each of attempted aggravated sexual assault, online solicitation of a minor, and attempted sexual performance by a child, all second degree felonies. Shrum was also indicted on five counts of possession of child pornography, a third degree felony.

Assistant Attorney General Angela Goodwin presented the cases to the Montgomery County grand jury.

Second degree felonies are punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Third degree felonies carry possible punishment of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Protecting children is one of Attorney General Abbott’s top priorities. In 2002, Abbott launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children. The Attorney General's initiative has resulted in over 500 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 52 men on child pornography charges.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.