A former concession worker at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair was convicted last week of soliciting sex from a minor after a two-day jury trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
It was the first-ever conviction for county prosecutors under a state law adopted in 2004 that makes it illegal to solicit minors for sex.
Gardner, 57, who now lives in Olean, N.Y., was working at the fair in 2006 when he called a phone number he saw on the wall of portable toilet at the fair, according to a statement released by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office on Thursday.
He made five calls over several days, and on the last call left a message on the 15-year-old’s voicemail, asking her to commit sex acts, said Seth Zucker, spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Gardner faces up to 10 years in jail for the soliciting charge, as well as six years total from two other charges for misusing a telephone. He is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 20.
‘‘The State Attorney’s Office is committed to aggressively prosecuting those who solicit children for sexual activity,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in a statement. ‘‘We will continue to work to ensure that young people in our community do not become victims.”
Gardner’s lawyer, Alan C. Drew, did not return telephone calls from The Gazette. According to Zucker, Gardner admitted to calling the number, but denied having asked the girl for sex.
Marty Svrcek, executive director of Montgomery County Agricultural Center Inc., said that Gardner was an employee of a concessionaire, not the fair or the company that runs the midway.
Fair organizers worked with police when they arrived at the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Svrcek said. Gardner was fired immediately, he said.
He added that he was not aware of any other such incident at the fair.
let me get this straight...a carny called a number he found on the wall of a port a john and asked for sex from a minor. whats the big deal................