DOVER, Del. (AP) — Federal and state authorities have charged a uniformed Secret Service officer from Maryland with sending obscene images and texts to someone he thought was a young Delaware girl, sometimes sending online communications while on duty at the White House.
Unbeknownst to Lee Robert Moore, 37, the person he thought was a 14-year-old girl was actually an undercover Delaware police officer.
According to a complaint unsealed Thursday in federal court in Wilmington, Moore surrendered to Maryland State Police on Monday after being placed on administrative leave last week.
Moore is charged in federal court with attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor. He also faces a state court preliminary hearing Friday on two counts of sexual solicitation of a child under 18 and one count of providing obscene material to a person under 18.
According to the federal complaint, Moore often engaged in online chats while on duty, once asking the undercover officer to send him something "exciting" one day when he was checking IDs for building entrance and complained that "work sucks today."
It was not immediately clear Thursday whether Moore had hired an attorney.
In an emailed statement Thursday, the agency said the matter was reported to its Office of Professional Responsibility on Nov. 6. It said Moore's security clearance was suspended that same day, his Secret Service-issued equipment was retrieved, his access to Secret Service facilities was terminated and he was placed on leave.
"The Secret Service takes allegations of potential criminal activity extremely seriously," the agency said in the statement.
Moore's arrest is the latest embarrassment for the Secret Service, which is charged with protecting the president and his family. The agency has been plagued by a series of scandals stretching back to 2012 when more than a dozen agents and officers were implicated in hiring prostitutes during a South American presidential trip. Since then, multiple agents and officers have been accused of wrongdoing, and the agency's management has been overhauled.
According to federal authorities, an undercover Delaware State Police detective posing as a 14-year-old girl on the social media application "Meet24" was contacted in August by another person who used the screen name "Rob" and said he was a 30-year-old man from Maryland. They subsequently agreed to communicate using the social media app "Kik," which allows the exchange of images and videos.
"Moore soon moved the chats sexual," Detective Kevin McKay wrote in an affidavit. "He stated he wanted to travel to Delaware and meet in person for sex. Moore made it clear that he knew I was a 14 yr old girl."
The affidavit, as well as the federal complaint, go on to describe graphic communications that Moore allegedly had with undercover officers, including sending a picture of his erect penis on Oct. 6. Two days later, according to the complaint, Moore informed a female undercover officer that he was going to be overseas for a few weeks. He sent her a message on Oct. 26 saying he had returned from his trip.
On Nov. 8, after being told he was being placed on leave and ordered by the Secret Service to report to a Maryland State Police barracks in Centerville, Moore sent a final message to the female undercover trooper.
"I don't think we should talk anymore," he wrote.
According to the federal complaint, Moore admitted after being taken into custody that he had taken and sent the explicit picture showing an erect penis. He also admitted that he had communicated with other "Meet24" users he thought to be minor girls.
"In particular, Moore stated that he had an (sic) sexual interest in 14 year-old females and had engaged such individuals in online chats about sexual matters," wrote Patrick McCall, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.
Associated Press writer Alicia Caldwell in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.