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Whittier Man Accused Of Offering Cash For Sex With Minors On Craigslist

SANTA ANA (CBS) — A Whittier man is behind bars Tuesday on federal charges after allegedly trying to arrange sexual intercourse with a minor over the Internet.

Leo James Zabala, Jr., 25, is accused of soliciting unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious acts upon a child of 14 or 15 years of age, and oral copulation with a child under 16 years of age, according to an affidavit filed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Authorities were tipped off to an advertisement posted on the classified services website Craigslist targeting high schools for sex in exchange for money.

An agent posing as "Lisa Richards" made contact with Zabala through an email account listed on Craigslist and exchanged messages over the course of about two weeks.

"Lisa" told Zabala she was 14 years old and was interested in performing sexual acts in exchange for cash.

After finally agreeing to meet "Lisa" at a Del Taco restaurant in Huntington Beach, Zabala was arrested by federal agents.

Zabala reportedly denied having sex with any minors, according to the affidavit.

Zabala allegedly posted as many as 380 additional ads on Craigslist, "the majority of which are sex related", the affidavit noted.

Postings linked to Zabala -- many of which were placed in the "casual encounters" section of Craigslist — reportedly date back all the way to 2009.

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