GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A fifth man nabbed in a clandestine sting operation targeting sex predators pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge stemming from his February encounter with a so-called video vigilante.
Jacob Ian Cassiday, 25, pleaded guilty to attempted accosting children for immoral purposes. The plea came on the day his jury trial was set to begin before Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped the original accosting charge, a four-year felony, and agreed not to charge him with using a computer to commit a crime.
The attempted accosting charge is punishable by up to two years in prison, but the plea agreement calls for no time in jail or prison. Cassiday will return for sentencing on Nov. 8; he remains free on bond.
Today’s plea resolves five of the seven criminal cases filed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office against men snared in the video dragnet.
Zach Sweers, 23, posed as a 15-year-old girl to flush out men looking to have sex with a minor. The evidence was turned over to Grand Rapids police and led to criminal charges against men ranging in age from 19 to 68.
Cassiday’s encounter with Sweers occurred at Leonard Street and Alpine Avenue NW, court records show.
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth in early May sent Sweers a letter that basically told him to knock it off.
“My office will not authorize any criminal charges based on your ‘YouTube encounters’ beyond those that have already been charged,’’ Forsyth wrote in the May 4th letter.
“There are several reasons for this decision, but they all spring from a concern for your safety and that of the community,’’ Forsyth wrote.
(© 2016 WZZM)