The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of North Carolina on Monday, August 22, 2022.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced today that a former Colorado sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 262 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for coercion and enticement of a minor. Vincent Ryan Potter, 38, formerly of Colorado, was also ordered to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.
U.S. Attorney King is joined in making today’s announcement by Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, and Sheriff Eddie Cathey of the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
“Potter is an online predator who contacted vulnerable children via social media and used deception, pressure, and threats to coerce his young victims into sending him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves. Potter was a sworn officer of the law which makes this case particularly disturbing,” said U.S. Attorney King. “I commend the law enforcement agencies that investigated this case for working closely across state lines to locate Potter and put a stop to his predatory behavior.”
“As a former law enforcement officer, this defendant betrayed the public trust placed in him by preying on children rather than protecting them, as he was sworn to do. HSI is committed to holding those who seek to exploit children fully accountable, regardless of the position they may hold,” said Special Agent in Charge Martinez.
“A child predator has been arrested and held accountable for his actions due to the joint investigative and prosecution efforts of UCSO detectives, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Union County Sheriff’s Office is proud to partner with our federal law enforcement partners in order to safeguard the children in our community from anyone who would try and cause them harm,” said Sheriff Cathey.
According to filed documents and today’s sentencing hearing, between January and April 2021, Potter used Snapchat to entice and coerce two minor victims to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography. At the time of the offense, Potter was a Deputy with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado. Court documents show that, in early 2021, Potter began communicating via Snapchat with a 14-year-old female located in
Union County. At the time Potter was communicating with the minor he knew the victim was a teenager. Over the course of their communications, Potter, who created multiple Snapchat accounts and pretended to be both a 15-year-old and a 23-year-old male, enticed and pressured the minor victim to send him images and videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Potter continued to ask the minor to produce child pornography and threatened the minor that he would release her explicit images to her friends and the internet if she did not comply.
According to court documents and court proceedings, during the same time period, Potter initiated communications via Snapchat with a second teenage female also located in Union County. During those communications, Potter enticed and coerced the minor to send him sexually explicit images and videos of herself.
On March 4, 2022, Potter pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography. Potter remains in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended HSI in Charlotte and in Colorado and the Union County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick J. Miller of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.