A 10-year veteran with the Ocala Police Department has been arrested for police misconduct and charged with attempting to solicit a 14-year-old girl over the internet.
The officer, 32, was arrested at his home by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials after an undercover operation by his own department and the North Florida Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.
The officer is suspended without pay. Further action will follow after resolution of the case. The officer is currently out of jail on $4,000 bail.
The arrest report states that on Dec. 14, a 14-year-old girl received an instant online message from “Jeff4U2Have,” saying he was a 24-year-old University of Florida student looking for a “new girl to support.” When she replied that she was only 14, the message sender replied it was “alright, as long as she didn’t tell anyone.”
After the chat, the girl searched for “Jeff4U2Have” on MySpace.com and noticed the photo of a much older man. The girl then e-mailed FDLE’s sexual predator unit.
From a subpoena, FDLE agents began monitoring several screen names. Then, on Jan. 29, using the fictitious name “Cindy Smith,” age 14, an FDLE agent sent “ThickJeff69” an instant message asking: “Hey, you in Ocala?” There was no reply.
Investigators issued another subpoena to find out more information about the screen name. They came up with the name “Jeff Williams,” who is believed to be Edmonds, the report said.
On Feb. 9, “Cindy Smith” sent “Jeff Williams” an instant message saying she was 14, and that she was moving to Ocala with her mother. “Jeff Williams” asked “Cindy Smith” a bunch of questions like, “U like older guys?” and “Older guys are cool. Money. Jobs.Car.etc.”
Officials said from Feb. 9 to April 16, “Jeff Williams” and “Cindy Smith” communicated at least nine times. Much of the conversations were reportedly sexual in nature.
Thursday, an FDLE agent talked with Edmonds in the Kmart shopping plaza parking lot on East Silver Springs Boulevard, not far from his home.
Edmonds reportedly admitted to “inappropriate sexual dialogue” and that “he used poor judgment.” Officials secured a search warrant for his home, and then arrested him.
The only marks on the officer’s personnel file are minor in nature – one for getting his time sheet approved and the other for a car accident involving a police vehicle. He has five commendations, including assisting a resident and his work during robbery and burglary investigations.