Man who took girl to California is sentenced

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Edgard “Eddie” Le

An Escondido, Calif., man who took an Evergreen girl back to his home state has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to 10 years in prison.

Edgard “Eddie” Le, 29, also was given five years of probation and ordered to pay a $100 fine as a result of his conviction by guilty plea to transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The 10 years in prison marks the minimum mandatory sentence for the crime, for which he could have been sentenced to life in prison and lifetime supervision as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

Le and cohort Dennis Nelson rented a car in San Diego and drove to Evergreen on Valentine’s Day last year to pick up a 12-year-old girl with whom Le had been having an online relationship.

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice states Le and the girl had conversations over the Internet about being in love, being engaged and planning to get married. It also states that once in California, Le intended to have a romantic and physical relationship with the girl.

The three were located in Victorville, Calif., by the FBI and the California Highway Patrol later that evening.

“Due to the diligent investigation and rapid response of the law enforcement agents and officers ... this young girl was extricated from a very dangerous situation,” U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter said.

Cotter specifically thanked the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Las Vegas Metro Fugitive Unit and the FBI.

“When an individual commits a crime involving a child in Montana, law enforcement will use all available resources to apprehend and prosecute that person to the fullest extent of the law,” Cotter said. “As a result of the sentence imposed today and the incarceration of Mr. Lee, he will be prohibited from committing further crimes against children for many years. This sentence will also deter others from similar conduct.”

The news release states that because there is no parole in the federal system, guidelines mandate that Le likely will serve his entire sentence, although he could earn a sentence reduction of up to 15 percent — 18 months — for good behavior.

Flathead County prosecution of both Le and Nelson was suspended to make way for federal charges, although it is unclear whether Nelson was ever charged in U.S. District Court.

A member of the girl’s extended family previously said that Nelson may have been transported back to California where he would face revocation of a prior sentence there.

Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at jdavis@dailyinterlake.com.

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