2 charged with soliciting minor

Published 8:51 am Monday, June 16, 2014

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal announced that his office arrested two Gretna men. Matthew Peter Verdin, 29, and Allen Payne Jr., 62, were arrested for computer-aided solicitation of a minor.

Verdin, a part-time assistant basketball coach and student at Southeastern Louisiana University, and Payne, a retired legal assistant, allegedly committed the felonies in an undercover Internet sting conducted in March by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

A Washington Parish deputy, posing as a 16-year-old female named Madison, communicated with Verdin and Payne through Internet ads, email and cellphone texts.

During these communications, both men indicated they wished to have sexual contact with Madison, sent indecent images of themselves and requested indecent images of Madison with specific instructions regarding what they wanted to be shown in the images. Verdin and Payne were arrested at their homes in a predawn raid on June 11. Participating in the arrests were cyber crime experts from Washington and Tangipahoa parish sheriff’s offices, along with the United States Marshal’s Office.

The two men were booked into the Jefferson Parish Jail as fugitives and then transported to the Washington Parish Jail. They were released on June 12 after posting $50,000 bonds.

“Any time we have the opportunity arrest child sexual predators, we will do so,” Washington Parish Chief Deputy Mike Haley said. “We are fortunate to have a certified cyber crimes expert on staff and he is always on the lookout for those who attempt to sexually exploit our children. I encourage all parents and guardians to make certain they know what their children are doing on the Internet. While the Internet is a valuable resource tool, it can also be a dangerous trap for children. Always monitor what your child is doing on the Internet, on social media and through the use of cellphone texts.”