A Colonial Heights man who allegedly showed up heavily armed for what he thought was a date to have sex with a 13-year-old girl in a Richmond hotel last month was arraigned in federal court this morning.
Robert Kropp, 26, pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson to a charge of using a cell phone to entice a person under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution or for carnal knowledge with someone under the age of 15.
A bearded, bespectacled man in leg shackles and blue jail clothing, Kropp faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life if convicted. He is set to reappear before Hudson on May 7.
According to an FBI affidavit, on March 1, a “confidential source” who was advertising herself as a 19-year-old prostitute on a website agreed to cooperate with Henrico police and gave law enforcement access to her telephone communications.
She told investigators that earlier that day a man asked if she knew of anyone younger than her with whom he could have sex. Investigators reviewed messages on the informant’s Google Voice account and found a message in which a man asked: “if u have a younger friend?”
He told the informant that he had “been looking around for that. Haven’t been able to find a younger girl.”
The informant authorized law enforcement to assume her identity and that same day an FBI special agent posing as her began using her Google Voice account to communicate with the man who identified himself as, “Bob.”
Verizon records showed authorities that “Bob’s” telephone number was subscribed to by Robert Kropp of Colonial Heights, said authorities.
The FBI agent, posing the as prostitute turned informant, told “Bob” that she had a 13-year-old cousin and through a series of text messages between the agent and Kropp between March 1 and March 7, Kropp indicated he was to meet the girl for sex.
In exchange he would pay $160 to the informant. Kropp also requested a picture of the girl and provided an email address where it could be sent.
Agents sent a composite photo of two children purporting to be the 13-year-old “cousin.” Later, at Kropp’s alleged request, a nude photo purporting to be the girl that was actually a life-sized doll was sent to the email address.
Kropp allegedly sent a photo of his genitals to the 19-year-old requesting it be shown to the 13-year-old.
Authorities charge that Kropp then began sending sexually explicit text messages that he thought were going to the 13-year-old girl but were actually going to the FBI.
A meeting was set up at a hotel in Richmond and Kropp indicated he was aware it would be the first sexual experience for the 13-year-old.
At 3 p.m. March 7, agents arrived at the hotel and spotted Kropp sitting in a red pickup truck registered to him. At 3:30 p.m. Kropp sent a text message he thought was going to the girl. Instead, the FBI responded with a room number inside the motel.
When he showed up in front of the room door he was arrested and found to have $200 in cash.
He was advised of his rights and, authorities said, he admitted, among other things, communicating with someone he thought was the 13- or 14-year-old cousin of the prostitute. He also let police search his truck where two handguns were found.
An April 1 indictment notified him that if convicted, he will forfeit his 2005 pickup truck, the $200 in cash, his cell phone, two handguns and 11 magazines, most of them full of bullets.