Note to self: federal prosecutors are really good at turning local crimes into federal ones.
Take the case of a former Chicago police officer who was busted for having sex with a minor. Prosecutors nailed him for federal sex trafficking because he used condoms that were made out of state.
Of course, he got what he deserved when he pled guilty. But it goes to show you -- especially if you are a criminal defense attorney -- that people have to be really careful when they cross the line.
William Whitley, 61, wasn't thinking about that when he paid to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. It never occurred to him that using his cell phone to take illicit pictures of minors and to pay them affected interstate commerce either.
But authorities were all over it. Instead of charging Whitley under state laws, prosecutors filed against him in federal district court. That made the potential sentence bounce up to a minimum of ten years.
Juliet Sorensen, a professor at Northwestern University law school, said it was a twist on gun crimes. She told the Chicago Tribune that condom traveling is like gun traveling.
"The person who pulled the trigger may not have traveled, but the gun did," she said. "This police officer may not have traveled, but an aspect that he used to commit the crime did."
According to reports, Whitley used condoms that were made in Thailand, India or Japan. He had been a Chicago cop for more than two decades when he was arrested.
He paid for sex with underage runaways at parties, in his apartment and his vehicle. His phone had the names and numbers of several girls, including the 14-year-old.
Her phone showed Whitley called or texted her hundreds of times. It's those little things that can add up to big time in federal cases.