POLK COUNTY, Florida -- In front of an audience of nearly 20 media members, Sheriff Grady Judd delivered another classic press conference performance complete with emotion, one-liners, and threats to any other sexual predators who may hear his message.
"Thank you folks for joining me today, as we talk about one of my favorite subjects," Judd said as he began the press conference after the arrest of 16 men on child porn and sex predator charges.
But when it came to 10 Investigates' questions about the inner-workings of his latest sex sting, dubbed "Operation Cyber Crime III," Judd balked and provided few answers.
10 Investigates began looking into how the stings were operated following a string of dropped charges and entrapment claims. However, nearly every sheriff's office in Greater Tampa Bay that conducts the predator stings has refused to turn over records that 10 News believes to be public information.
Judd claimed that men who wanted nothing to do with the law enforcement "underage decoys" are still under investigation -- even years after a sting was finished -- because they may still be arrested one day. Defense attorneys tell 10 Investigates they suspect law enforcement is withholding the records because it will reveal they are trying to entrap more men than anyone realizes.
During the press conference, Judd also compared arresting the men was like "shooting fish in a barrel," although it wasn't clear how easy it was for detectives since Judd wouldn't say how many men the task force had to bait to get their 16 arrests.
The sheriff admitted detectives from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force he oversees were "knocked off" several sites for inappropriate use, applauding those sites for taking appropriate action. He told members of the media that more pressure needs to be put on sites that don't police for predators and underage users.
When asked if the sheriff's office was also going after underage children who were seeking adults online, as many ICAC fake ads mimic, Judd said, "not a lot; there are some."
10 Investigates continues to seek public records to shed light on the secretive stings.