Phoenixville man admits to improper, illegal online conduct

NORRISTOWN >> A 19-year-old Phoenixville man awaits his fate from a judge after he admitted to having inappropriate online communications with who he believed was a minor but in reality was an undercover state investigator.

Eric Tyler Albert, of the 1200 block of Monroe Avenue, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to felony charges of criminal use of a communication facility and unlawful contact with a minor in connection with incidents that occurred in March. Judge William R. Carpenter deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigation report about Albert.

Albert, who remains free on $100,000 unsecured bail pending sentencing, faces a possible maximum sentence of seven to 14 years in prison on the charges. However, state sentencing guidelines could allow for a lesser sentence.

Albert, who is represented by defense lawyer Timothy Woodward, also must undergo an evaluation by the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board which will determine if Albert meets criteria to be classified as a sexually violent predator. Those classified as such face more stringent restrictions under the law, including mandatory counseling and community notification about their housing arrangements.

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Regardless of the state board’s findings, Albert will have to report his address to state police for 25 years as a result of his conviction, according to court documents.

The investigation was conducted by members of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General who are assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

According to a criminal complaint, Albert responded to an undercover advertisement placed on an online social media platform and communicated with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old minor. Authorities alleged Albert solicited sexual contact and sent a sexually explicit photograph of himself to the undercover agent who had assumed the identity of a minor.

At 11 a.m. on March 1, Albert was spotted at a pre-arranged meeting place in Montgomery County and was intercepted by state investigators. Albert subsequently gave a statement to authorities.

“The actor stated he has not had a good couple of days and made some poor decisions. The actor stated he knows it is legally and morally wrong to solicit a minor for sex and to send minors explicit sexual photos,” Eric J. Barlow, a special agent with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, wrote in the criminal complaint.

A charge of obscene and other sexual materials will be dismissed against Albert at time of sentencing in exchange for his guilty plea to the other felony charges, according to court documents.