WILMINGTON, Del. – A Sellersville, Pa., man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Michael J. Barndt, 40, must also serve five years of supervised release following his prison sentence and register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works or attends school.
"Predators like Mr, Barndt stalk and attack the most vulnerable in our society, our children," said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. "As today’s sentencing shows, he will now answer for his despicable actions. HSI will not tolerate such acts; we will relentlessly and aggressively track down child predators to ensure our communities are safe."
According to court documents, Barndt was employed as a chef manager at the Lakeside School in Horsham Township, Pa., from 2009 until his arrest. He also served as the football coach at Springfield Township Middle School, in Montgomery County, Pa., for six years, last coaching during the 2012 football season. During summer months, Barndt also worked as a camp counselor at Blue Bell Camp, in Blue Bell, Pa., where he coached football and transported children.
Barndt began contact with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl, but was actually an undercover special agent, after he posted an online personal ad on Craigslist titled "Real Teen Fantasy." In the ad, he expressed interest in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Using the screen name "mikecoach73," Barndt engaged in a series of explicit online chat conversations with an undercover special agent, where he transmitted explicit photos of himself.
Barndt drove from his Sellersville residence and checked into a local Wilmington hotel, June 19. He then drove to the Concord Mall, where he was arrested by special agents shortly after purchasing items at Victoria’s Secret.
Special agents seized his smartphone and upon forensic review, found it to contain approximately 15,000 images of teenage females who were suggestively dressed or partially or completely nude.
Most of the photos appeared to have been self-produced by teenagers with their smartphones.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. McAndrew.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.