Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that Andrew Wirth, 33, of Ravenna, Ohio, was sentenced on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge John R. Adams after Wirth pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor in December 2021.
“The defendant’s reckless and repeated attempts to pursue minors for sexual conduct show his blatant disregard for our laws and the wellbeing of our community’s children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler. “Thanks to the cooperation between our federal, state and local partners, law enforcement in Northern Ohio remains a united front in the fight against human trafficking.”
“The arrest of Andrew Wirth must serve as a wake-up call to those who engage in the horrific crime of sex trafficking,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris III. “Wirth’s egregious actions show his willingness to exploit the vulnerable, and HSI and our law enforcement partners stand ready and committed to removing such individuals from society,” he added.
“This is a prime example that some people just need to be locked up and kept away from the rest of us—and our children,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “Thanks to our partners at the US DOJ, the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force and Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, that’s what is going to happen here.’
According to court documents, in May 2019, Wirth was arrested after he used a social networking mobile application in an attempt to meet up with an undercover law enforcement officer, whom he believed was a minor at the time, with the intent of engaging in sexual activity. Wirth was charged at the state level and subsequently posted bond.
In November 2019, while on bond for his state charges, Wirth again used a social networking mobile application to contact a minor victim for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity. Wirth and the minor victim later met, and Wirth provided gifts and meals to the victim in return for sexual acts as payment.
While still on bond, Wirth used an online dating application to arrange a meeting with an adult victim. During their meeting, Wirth sexually assaulted the victim and later expressed his desire to engage in sexual activity with children as young as ten years old. Wirth then offered the victim a “finder’s fee” to find a minor to engage in sexual activity. The victim reported these acts to local police, and an undercover officer assumed the victim’s online identity.
The undercover officer later pretended to be a minor and began an online conversation with Wirth. Soon, Wirth began to express his desire to engage in sexual activity with the minor. On November 6, 2019, Wirth purchased a hotel room, alcohol and other items for the purposes of meeting the minor and engaging in sexual activity. Wirth was arrested that same day outside the hotel room.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force and with assistance from the Mahoning and Columbiana Counties Sheriff’s Offices. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Margaret A. Kane.