SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Robert Hardin, age 76, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, pled guilty today to traveling to New York from Michigan for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with an 11-year-old child. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
As part of his guilty plea, Hardin admitted that from July of 2021 through August of 2021 he exchanged sexually explicit messages via an online social networking application and text message with an undercover officer posing as the mother of 11-year-old girl. In these messages, Hardin expressed a desire to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the child. Hardin further admitted that on August 24, 2021, he traveled from Michigan to New York in order to meet with the child and engage in sexual conduct with her at a location in the Binghamton area. Hardin was arrested after arriving at the location and has been in custody since that date.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 1, 2022, in Binghamton, before Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. Hardin faces up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of at least 5 years and up to life.
A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors. Upon his release from prison Hardin will be required to register as a sex offender in any state where he resides, is employed, or is a student.
This case was investigated by the FBI Mid-State Child Exploitation Task Force, comprised of FBI Special Agents and Investigators of the New York State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle as a part of Project Safe Childhood.
Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorney’s offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.