Friday, September 28, 2007

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Former Gonzales Paramedic Investigated by Cyber Crimes Unit Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison

VICTORIA – A former Gonzales EMS paramedic investigated and prosecuted by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit received a nine-year prison sentence Thursday for using the Internet to prey on children.

Keith Robert Berger, 25, was arrested in February 2007 after he traveled from Gonzales to Victoria with a handgun and condoms to meet and sexually assault a 13-year-old boy he met online. The online profile actually belonged to an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator.

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Keith Berger

Berger pleaded guilty to one count of online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony. Upon release, Berger will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years. 377th District Judge Robert Cheshire also ordered Berger to pay a $500 fine. Assistant Attorney General Angela Goodwin prosecuted the case with assistance from Victoria County Assistant District Attorney Brian Hrach.

“Parents must be ever-vigilant to ensure their children use the Internet safely, and this case proves they have every reason to be watchful,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Our Cyber Crimes Unit investigators have seen first-hand the dangerous criminals that lurk online. We are grateful to Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler and the Victoria Police Department for working with our Cyber Crimes Unit to bring this offender to justice.”

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he 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 sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole. Attorney General Abbott’s initiative has resulted in more than 600 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against more than 70 men on child pornography charges.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.