A Valley City man was arrested by local police Sunday on a warrant obtained by the Wahpeton Police Department.
Joshua Dale Holm, 31, was charged with a Class B Felony for allegedly luring minors by computer or other electronic means. Wahpeton PD has been conducting an ongoing undercover sting operation to catch people luring minors over the internet for sexual purposes.
Barnes County State’s Attorney Lee Grossman said the alleged crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but Barnes County will have no involvement in the case.
“It’s a Richland County case, so other than that he’s sitting in our jail, we don’t know anything about it,” Grossman said.
Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thortsteinson said he would not expound on details of the case because he claimed it would hinder ongoing investigations.
“The problem we have is we’re a small pond just like Valley City is, and what I worry about is if it gets out: ‘Don’t go to this place or that place because, the person that you think is a 12- or 13-year-old person that you’re going to have sex with and it actually turns out being a police officer,’ then they’re not going to go there and get a real victim someplace else,” Thortsteinson said.
The Chief said Holm allegedly “Engaged in conversations in online forums about having sex with a person he believed to be underage,” and that there may have been an exchange of pictures.
The officers in the sting had tried to lure the suspect to Wahpeton for the arrest because it strengthens their case, but the Chief said they had enough evidence and chose to move now rather than later.
“It’s always best to get them to come to town because then it’s hard for them to deny it, but we didn’t get that far, but we did have enough to charge him, and you always try to make sure you have a good case,” Thortsteinson said.
“He never did come to town but there’d been talk about it. One of our concerns is a lot of times these people have more than one person on the line, so if it doesn’t work out for us, maybe that person will go somewhere else and interact with a real victim, so you hate to give them too much line and in the meantime someone suffers for it. So we decided to go with what we had.”