Florida deputy, 41, ‘is busted for trying to get nude photos from Facebook sex predator hunters who pretended to be a 15-year-old girl in online sting’
- Charlotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Martin Allen charged with lewd and lascivious conduct
- Martin is accused communicating online with who he thought was a 15-year-old girl named Mandy, and asking her to send nude photos
- Martin also allegedly asked bogus teen to sleep naked together, and even to move in with him during exchange, some of which took place on duty
- Martin was arrested 10 months after Lee Bassett, founder of Facebook group dedicated to unmasking sexual predators, began communicating with him
- After Bassett and his team of volunteers realized that Martin was a sheriff’s deputy, they contacted Internal Affairs
A Florida sheriff’s deputy has been allegedly caught trying to solicit nude photos from a 15-year-old girl – and even asking her to move in with him – as part of a 10-month online sting operation led by Facebook sexual predator hunters.
On Monday, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Deputy Martin Allen, 41, on a felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct.
According to officials, Allen communicated online with someone he believed to be 15 years old and made ‘many inappropriate requests,’ including asking the bogus teen to take showers and sleep naked together, give massages, and even to move in with him.
Many of the online exchanges allegedly took place while Allen was on duty.
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Martin Allen, 41, has been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct for allegedly trying to solicit nude photos from a teen, who turned out to be Facebook sex predator hunter Lee Bassett and his girlfriend, Rebecca Freeman (right)
Bassett is the founder of Exposing Predators -SWFE, which is a Facebook group dedicated to unmasking adults preying on children
‘Deputy Allen has broken his oath and that sacred trust that is expected as a law enforcement officer,’ Sheriff Bill Prummell said during a press conference on Sunday. ‘Instead, choosing to prey upon those he swore to serve and protect. This cannot and will not be tolerated.’
Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell announced Allen’s arrest on Sunday, saying that his deputy ‘has broken his oath’
The arrest comes 10 months after Lee Bassett, the founder of the Facebook group Exposing Predators – Southwest Florida Exposure, and his team of volunteers began exchanging messages with Allen, pretending to be a 15-year-old girl named Mandy, reported NBC2.
‘I been waiting for this, been trying to tell everybody but I couldn’t. Gotta keep a big secret,’ Bassett said in a Facebook Live video on Sunday night.
Bassett told The Daily Sun he has been pursuing what he called his ‘hobby’ of snaring sexual predators for three years now, but Allen’s case marks the first time that his group’s activities have resulted in an arrest.
Bassett said that during his exchanges with his volunteers, Allen hinted that he was a law enforcement officer.
When the Facebook sleuths finally worked out that he was a Charlotte County sheriff’s deputy, they contacted the office’s Internal Affairs unit on February 9.
At that point, the sheriff’s office took over the investigation and got Allen to agree to meet with the pretend teen in person, leading to his arrest over the weekend.
Bassett and his girlfriend, Rebecca Freeman, explained that they hunt for suspected sexual predators online in their spare time and do it on a volunteer basis.
Freeman and Lee have been pursuing their ‘hobby’ of catching sexual predators in their spare time. They have a team of volunteers that help them
‘There’s just a lot of creeps out there, and we’re just trying to expose them and bring awareness to it,’ Bassett told the Sun back in April. ‘A lot of times when cops do it, they don’t get an arrest until the crime’s already been committed. Doing it this way exposes them before they’re doing the crimes.’
North Post Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told the paper he is aware of Bassett’s activities and has urged him to shut down his Facebook page.
‘We would prefer people leave this to law enforcement,’ he said. ‘The dangers are endless. Law enforcement has protections to do this type of work. Someone doing it from home behind a keyboard does not. You can imagine a situation where those doing the ‘exposing’ are exposing themselves to retaliation and possibly legal ramifications.’
Bassett says he hopes to team up with law enforcement to unmask more suspected predators in the future.
Allen was released from jail on Monday after posting $75,000. He is due back in court for an arraignment on March 29.