Area man pleads guilty to transporting minor for sex

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sentencing in federal prison to follow investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- A Stella man has pleaded guilty in federal court to transporting a minor across state lines for illicit sex in a case investigated by the Cassville Police Department.

Tong Yang, 45, of Stella, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the charge contained in a Jan. 21 federal indictment.

By pleading guilty, Yang admitted that he traveled to Minnesota on Dec. 7, 2013, to pick up a 15-year-old girl and bring her back to Missouri with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Yang allegedly contacted the minor victim a couple of weeks earlier by sending her a friend request on Facebook. Yang talked to her about coming to live with him in Missouri and told her he owned his own business. The minor victim went to her mother's house to retrieve some clothing on Dec. 6, 2013, and while there, asked Yang to come get her. She snuck out and met with Yang in front of her mother's house the next day, and they drove to a hotel in Neosho, where they allegedly engaged in unprotected sex.

Under federal statutes, Yang is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Cassville and the Neosho police departments.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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