A former U.S. Secret Service agent was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday after admitting he sent sexually-charged emails and nude photos of himself to a South Florida teen and other young girls from his post at the White House.
Saying Lee Robert Moore "dishonors every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform," a federal prosecutor pushed for a life sentence in prison for the former agent and U.S. Marine, who was stripped of his high-security clearance shortly after he was arrested in late 2015 at his home in Church Hill, Maryland.
While making it clear that a life sentence would be too harsh, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley made it equally clear that the 15-year sentence Moore sought wasn’t sufficient to protect teens from those who prey on them on the Internet.
Moore, 38, never made physical contact with the three teens to whom he sent lewd messages while working at the White House. But, Hurley said, he was disturbed that Moore contacted his victims through a phone app that also showed him their locations. Moore also told the girls that he dreamed of meeting them for sex, sent them nude photos of himself and enticed them to send him explicit photos of themselves.
"I have great concerns about the recruitment theme (of the messages)," Hurley said. "I’m not satisfied that it was just discussion."
Moore’s arrest and conviction is yet another black eye for the elite law enforcement agency that has been riddled with scandals. Moore was working for the agency in the Obama Administration when agents were disciplined for drinking and using prostitutes while on assignment. A year before Moore’s arrest, a security contractor with a criminal record was allowed to get on an elevator with Obama and an Iraq war veteran jumped the White House fence and made it into the East Room before he was tackled.
In emails and texts to his victims, Moore identified himself as a law enforcement agent, without saying where he worked. He told them he was bored with his job, checking identification and patrolling the White House grounds on a bicycle.
In a letter to Hurley, Moore’s wife said her husband was disappointed to be transferred back to the White House. He loved his job as a firearms instructor at the Secret Service training academy, she said.
However, Moore didn’t blame job dissatisfaction for his behavior. Instead, he said, after his two children were born, his wife was consumed with raising them. "I got lonely," he said. "I was selfish."
He began using the Internet for sexual gratification. "I turned to the Internet because it seemed to be a softer and safer betrayal to (my wife)," he said, choking back tears. "I was wrong."
Further, he said, he discovered he had a dark side he didn’t know existed: He liked young girls. "I became a pervert," he said as his wife, parents and other relatives tearfully looked on.
Ordering Moore to get psychological treatment and register as a sex offender when he is released from prison, Hurley said he didn’t believe the former officer’s actions were driven by a need for companionship. "Someone doesn’t do that just because they get lonely," he said.
The case against Moore began when a detective with the Delaware State Police, posing as a 14-year-old girl, began exchanging emails with the agent. Eventually, law enforcement found he had been sending lewd messages to a Coconut Creek, Florida, teen for nearly two years and two other teens in Texas and Missouri. The cases filed against him in Florida and Delaware were consolidated.
In March, Moore pleaded guilty to two charges, one of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity and another of sending obscene material to a person under the age of 16.
Hurley also acknowledged that as a former police officer and convicted child predator, Moore won’t have an easy life in prison. For his protection, he has been segregated from the general population while in the Palm Beach County Jail.
Hurley said he was hopeful federal prison officials would "take into consideration your employment and consider your safety."