WINCHESTER — A Winchester man will spend more than a year behind bars for propositioning a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was actually an undercover police investigator.
Wilfredo Berrios Rodriguez, 51, of the 100 block of Hampton Court, pleaded guilty Friday in Frederick County Circuit Court to computer solicitation and attempting to take indecent liberties.
The Spanish-speaking Berrios Rodriguez relied on a court-appointed translator during the hearing, and on two occasions professed his innocence.
“Even though I didn’t do it, I am pleading guilty,” Berrios Rodriguez said via the translator.
Defense attorney Gerardo DelGado told Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Alex Iden that Berrios Rodriguez had previously made “a very lengthy admission” to his crimes.
Berrios Rodriguez’s comment came after he pleaded guilty to the computer solicitation charge, so Iden amended the plea to that count to an Alford plea of guilt. An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain his or her innocence while acknowledging there is sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Berrios Rodriguez’s guilty plea to attempting to take indecent liberties was not amended.
Assistant Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney Heather Enloe said Berrios Rodriguez sent a series of Facebook and text messages soliciting sex from what he thought was an underage girl. However, the “girl” he was communicating with from March 24 through June 28, 2017, was Jason Killian, an investigator with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in partner with NOVA/DC Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Over the course of three months, Enloe said, Berrios Rodriguez proposed several sexual acts with the “girl” and made repeated attempts to meet face to face.
“I do not tell anyone, I promise,” Berrios Rodriguez wrote in one of the messages. “I’m afraid because you’re only 14, but if you need money, I can help.”
That was one of several times that Berrios Rodriguez offered to pay for sex, Enloe said.
On May 3, Berrios Rodriguez asked the “girl” if she was a police officer. Enloe said he voiced that suspicion several more times in the following weeks, but he nonetheless continued to request sexual encounters.
On June 28, the “girl” agreed to meet Berrios Rodriguez at her house. When he arrived at the address Killian had provided, Berrios Rodriguez was met and taken into custody by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
Near the end of Friday morning’s hearing, Berrios Rodriguez once again professed his innocence.
“I pled guilty, but I didn’t write those messages because I don’t know how to write in English,” he said via his translator.
Iden proceeded to impose the sentence requested in the plea agreement — a 10-year prison term with all but one year and one month suspended.
Following his release from prison, Berrios Rodriguez will be on supervised probation for two years and unsupervised probation for another three.
He will also be added to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, be prohibited from having unsupervised contact with juveniles, and will not be allowed to use a computer or smartphone unless it is for employment purposes and his activities are monitored.
As an immigrant from Mexico, Berrios Rodriguez could also be deported following his release from prison. If that happens, Iden said, the probationary portion of his sentence will convert to 10 years of unsupervised probation, which will be upgraded to 10 years of supervised probation if he re-enters the United States.
— Contact Brian Brehm at firstname.lastname@example.org