A Fulton man faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole following a guilty plea to transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

According to the US Attorney's Office, 21-year-old Michael James Collins admitted that he paid his grandmother $400 to go to Alabama to pick up a 13-year-old girl with whom he'd been communicating with online. After the girl was discovered missing, a cell phone ping placed her at a residence in Fulton, where she was located and removed.

Collins was on probation at the time of the offense for a prior felony conviction for sexual misconduct involving a child.

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Monday, November 26, 2018, JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A prior sex offender in Fulton, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today after his mother and grandmother transported a 13-year-old child victim from Alabama to engage in illegal sexual activity with him.

Michael James Collins, 21, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr. Collins, who was a resident at the Community Supervision Center in Fulton, was on probation at the time of the offense for a prior felony conviction for sexual misconduct involving a child.

According to today’s plea agreement, the Callaway County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department received information on Dec. 10, 2017, that a 13-year-old girl from Alabama was missing from her home. A cell phone ping placed the child victim at a residence in Fulton, where she was located and removed.

Collins admitted that he paid his grandmother $400 to go to Alabama to pick up the child victim, whom he met on a dating website in July 2017. Collins’s mother was with his grandmother when the child victim was picked up in Alabama and transported to Missouri. Collins’s grandmother and mother also transported the child victim between the Fulton residence and Collins’s residence at the Community Supervision Center when they were taking Collins back and forth to work.

Collins and the child victim communicated with each other from July to December 2017 via cell phone, Facebook Messenger and other apps, which was a violation of Collins’s probation. Collins accessed the internet using his cell phone as well as his mother’s cell phone.

Collins pleaded guilty today to transporting a minor under the age of 14 across state lines with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity and to committing the felony offense while he was under the requirement to register as a sex offender.

Under federal statutes, Collins is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the Callaway County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Fulton, Mo., Police Department, the FBI, the Callaway County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office and the Callaway County Children’s Division.

Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."