An Ada man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a felony charge that he traveled to Peru to engage in sex with minors.
Robert Earl Pierce, 61, entered his plea in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to one count of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.”
Pierce operated a bail bonding business on Main Street in Ada. He said Thursday he is no longer conducting business as a bondsman and referred a call seeking comment to his attorney, Jacquelyn Ford.
Ford said Pierce is awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.
“He will have to register as a sex offender under Oklahoma law,” Ford said. “And there will certainly be fines and court costs assessed.”
She said the offense carries a penalty of up to 30 years in federal prison, but noted that probation remained — at least in part — a possibility.
“Probation is not (off the table), and jail time is not necessarily mandatory. There’s really no way to know what the sentence will be, but there will certainly be some type of supervision,” Ford said.
Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Pierce remains free for now but, due to the nature of the charge, must wear an ankle monitor.
Court documents reveal the charges stem from an FBI investigation into Pierce’s repeated travel to Iquitos, Peru, indicating he had made as many as 30 trips there since 2005. On at least 25 of those trips, the FBI alleges he traveled with Oklahoma City attorney Michael Dean Billings.
Billings was indicted on similar charges by a grand jury in 2014 and pleaded guilty in November 2015. He is awaiting sentencing at hearing scheduled for June 30.
Billings and Pierce were detained in Iquitos by FBI agents and Peruvian authorities in September 2013 after authorities said they were seen taking a 13-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl into a hotel room.
In the documents filed Wednesday, Pierce wrote:
“I travel[ed] out of the U.S. to engage in sex w[ith] a person (female) under 18 years of age. I am a citizen of the U.S. I did so knowingly and voluntarily.”
Ford said she thought sentencing would be completed by the end of the summer.