The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Iowa on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
A Sioux City teacher pled guilty January 13, 2023, in federal court in Sioux City.
Andrew John Heller, age 39, from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, was convicted of attempted enticement of a minor.
The FBI and Sioux City Police Department were conducting an undercover investigation to identify subjects engaged in human trafficking in Sioux City, Iowa. As part of the operation, law enforcement posted an advertisement for sex services on a frequently used dating website.
Andrew Heller, a middle school teacher and high school baseball coach, contacted an undercover phone number, responding to an ad purporting to be from a 19-year-old female offering sexual services on the website in exchange for money. What Heller did not know was that an undercover FBI agent was responding. The FBI agent immediately posed as a 14-year-old girl. Heller agreed to pay $200 cash and bring some Trulys in exchange for sex with someone he thought was an underage female. The meeting date was scheduled, and Heller showed up, as previously arranged, in his vehicle. He was searched by police, who found the cash and Trulys, along with condoms.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Heller was taken into custody by the United States Marshal after the guilty plea and will remain in custody pending sentencing. Heller faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 5 years up to life of supervised release following any imprisonment.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Timmons and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sioux City Police Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 22-4059.