California Man Pleads Guilty to Traveling to Syracuse Intending to Engage in Sexual Conduct with a Child

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SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Edward Mercado, age 34, of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty yesterday to traveling to New York from California for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a 10-year-old child. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

As part of his guilty plea, Mercado admitted that from May of 2021 through June of 2021 he engaged in numerous telephone conversations and exchanged sexually explicit text messages with an undercover officer posing as the mother of 10-year-old girl.  In these telephone calls and text messages, Mercado expressed a desire to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the child.  Mercado further admitted that on June 3, 2021, he traveled from California to Syracuse, New York in order to meet with the child and engage in sexual conduct with her at a location in the Ithaca area. Mercado was arrested after arriving at the Syracuse airport and has been in custody since that date.

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Sentencing is scheduled for April 13, 2022, in Utica, before United States District Judge David N. Hurd.  Mercado faces up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of at least 5 years and up to life.

A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.  Upon his release from prison Mercado will be required to register as a sex offender in any state where he resides, is employed, or is a student.

This case was investigated by the FBI Mid-State Child Exploitation Task Force, comprised of FBI Special Agents and Investigators of the New York State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Brown as a part of Project Safe Childhood.

Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorney’s offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.

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