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James Eugene Larive, Jr. Larive argues that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the conviction, because he abandoned the attempt before taking a substantial step toward completion of the offense. We conclude that the evidence adequately supports the jury's finding of an attempt, and we therefore affirm. As part of the operation, agents posted advertisements on websites offering young girls for prostitution.

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Fresh young thing. Larive responded to the advertisement by e-mail. After Schnabel sent a photograph of a female state employee modified to appear underage, Larive asked whether he could make a trade instead of paying cash.

Schnabel then informed Larive that the girl was fifteen years old.

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After some negotiation, Larive agreed to trade a cell phone for an hour of sex with the fifteen-year-old girl. Boone and Russell observed Larive leave his residence shortly after p. Larive drove to a gas station next to the Hardee's in Belle Fourche.

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Boone testified that the parking lot of the Hardee's was visible from the gas station. After several minutes, Larive left the gas station, driving south out of Belle Fourche for approximately one mile, and then drove west. Boone and Russell observed Larive return to the gas station about ten minutes later.

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At this point, the undercover vehicle was parked in the Hardee's parking lot. Larive drove through the gas station parking lot and into the Hardee's lot.

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He proceeded slowly through the Hardee's lot, past the undercover vehicle, and then exited the lot. Larive drove north about one mile, for fewer than four minutes, at which point Boone and Russell initiated a traffic stop.

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After arresting Larive, Boone and Russell recovered a cell phone from his vehicle. A grand jury charged Larive with attempted commercial sex trafficking in violation of 18 U. The case proceeded to trial, and at the close of the government's case, Larive moved for a judgment of acquittal.

United States Court of Appeals,Eighth Circuit.

See Fed. He argued that no reasonable jury could find that he completed a substantial step toward the commission of the crime, so he could not be convicted of attempt. The district court 2 denied the motion. The jury found Larive guilty, and he now appeals his conviction. Larive contends that the evidence against him was insufficient to support his conviction for attempted commercial sex trafficking.

We review the claim de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, and drawing all reasonable inferences in support of the verdict.

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We will reverse the conviction only if no reasonable jury could have found Larive guilty. See United States v.

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May, F. Blue Bird, F. We have explained the law of attempt as follows:. We have considered similar sufficiency arguments in connection with prosecutions for attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity under 18 U. United States v.

Pierson, F. Young, F. We also have held that a defendant's online conversation with an adult that makes an arrangement to have sex with a purported minor constitutes a substantial step toward enticement. Spurlock, F. The district court instructed the jury that to convict Larive, the government was required to prove that he attempted knowingly to recruit, entice, or obtain an underage person whom he knew would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.

We thus conclude that Larive's conduct constituted a substantial step toward the crime of commercial sex trafficking, and the crime of attempt was completed.

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Larive does not dispute that there was sufficient evidence to show his intent to commit the crime, but claims that he abandoned his criminal purpose without taking a substantial step toward its completion when he drove past the undercover vehicle and exited the Hardee's parking lot. Larive argues that United States v. Joyce, F. Joyce met the informant and an undercover law enforcement officer at a hotel in St.

Louis, and demanded to see the cocaine. The undercover officer retrieved a plastic package wrapped in tape, but refused to open the package until Joyce produced the money.

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Joyce was arrested after leaving the hotel and convicted of attempting to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. In this case, a reasonable jury could find that Larive committed an attempt by finishing negotiations for the commercial sex act with a minor and traveling to the meeting site. Once the attempt was completed, Larive was not entitled to an abandonment defense based on his departure from the Hardee's. The Honorable Jeffrey L. Explore Resources For Practice Management.

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