Maui Internet sex
offender gets 7 years

A Maui man convicted of attempting to use the Internet to entice a 15-year-old Wyoming girl to come to Hawaii to have sex with him was sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Alan Kay cited Thomas Schnepper's continued denial of his guilt in the face of "insurmountable evidence" and the "predatory" nature of the crime as factors in sentencing him to the maximum term.

A jury in June had also convicted Schnepper, 38, of attempting to transfer obscene material to someone he believed was younger than 16 years old.

Schnepper, a scuba instructor from Lahaina, faced 70 to 87 months under federal sentencing guidelines.

Kay also ordered him to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

Although the teenager was actually an undercover federal agent posing as a 15-year-old from Schnepper's hometown of Cheyenne, Wyo., Kay ruled that it was Schnepper who first initiated contact.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Tong said that within the first 20 minutes of Schnepper's first Internet chat with 15-year-old "Mandy Swanson," Schnepper had e-mailed her five photos of himself, including one of his anatomy.

Tong had recommended a sentence at the highest end of the guidelines, arguing that Schnepper fully intended to have sex with the girl had he not gotten caught.

Yesterday, Schnepper said he has found God in prison and realizes now that playing sexual games on the Internet was wrong in God's eyes and promised never to engage in that conduct again.


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