Three arrested in online sex sting


Published: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.

Police have arrested three more men in Operation Tailfeather, an undercover Internet sex sting involving the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement, bringing the total number of arrests to 10.

In operation Tailfeather, operatives posed as underage girls — exchanging messages on e-commerce sites and talking on the phone with the suspects.

“These three men never actually traveled to meet and have sex,” Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey said, “but they did carry on conversations with undercover detectives.”

Forgey said the conversations and photos exchanged led detectives to the charges, and that the arrests are residual products of Operation Tailfeather.

“That operation is done and closed,” he said.

Samuel Ribel, 45, a registered sex offender, was originally arrested on Sept. 21 in Lee County and charged with obscene communication misrepresenting his age, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony and sex offender violation. According to Forgey, he was also charged with obscene communication using the computer to seduce a child. He was transferred to the Alachua County jail on Monday morning.

Nicholas Knittig, 30, was arrested in Marion County, Kan., on Aug. 22. Knittig faces federal indictment charges of solicitation of a minor via the Internet and transmission of harmful material, Forgey said. The indictment was out of Orlando, where Knittig made contact with a detective.

Knittig, like Ribel, is a sexual offender. He was convicted in June 2004, Forgey said, on a crime of traveling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor. Forgey said he assumes Knittig will be extradited to Alachua County.

The third man arrested was Guy Johnson, 57. Forgey said he was arrested in Texas on federal charges stemming from communicating with detectives. Johnson was arrested in late May, Forgey said.

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