Undercover operation results in arrests



During the past few months, Detectives from the Kern County Sheriff's Office, Special Victims Unit conducted an ongoing undercover operation targeting online child predators.

Undercover detectives, posing as minor children through various online applications and websites, were contacted and solicited by individuals interested in the sexual exploitation of children. These crimes have become more common during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Detectives in an undercover capacity have received numerous correspondence from child predators, who agreed to meet minor children to engage in lewd acts. Detectives subsequently arrested the suspects when they arrived at the meeting location, while others were arrested at their homes.


During this particular operational period, detectives arrested 11 suspects, ranging from ages 24 to 51 years old, including a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employee.


The following is a list of individuals arrested and associated charges during this operation:

8/23/2020 2020-00116832 – Jonah Scott Smutney (24) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

8/23/2020 2020-0017888 – Julio Vasquez (38) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

9/5/2020 2020-00093257 – Werner Ernest Leo III (51) Bakersfield, Ca

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

09/10/2020 2020-00103779 – Tommy Hardin (35) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.2(a)(a), Send harmful matter to minor

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

9/10/2020 2020-00126460 – Brian Donaldson (50) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.2(a)(a), Send harmful matter to minor

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

9/16/2020 2020-00129737 – Roger Groza (32) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

HS 11364, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

HS 11377(a), Possession of a Controlled Substance

9/18/2020 2020-00130687 – Jonathan Kenneth Simon (42) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

10/3/2020 2020-00132117 – Jeffrey Lee Lawson (40) Porterville, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

10/13/2020 2020-00126447 – Jesus Valencia (24) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.2(a)(a), Send harmful matter to minor

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

PC 14601.1(a), Suspended License

3 active warrants

10/26/2020 2020-00149506 – Robert Geivet (42) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

11/7/2020 2020-00155274 – Roberto Jesus Cortez (39) Bakersfield, Ca.

PC 288.3(a), Contacting a minor with the intent to perform lewd acts

PC 288.4(a)(1), Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

PC 288.4(b), Meeting with a minor

The Sheriff’s Office continues to adapt during this unprecedented public health pandemic in the interest of protecting our community's children and bringing justice to those who commit these repugnant crimes. Parents are urged to closely monitor their children's online activity and use security settings to prevent them from accessing inappropriate websites and online social media platforms. The Kern County Sheriff's Office encourages the public to report anyone attempting to coerce minors into providing sexually explicit images of themselves.


Livestreaming using the abundance of smartphone applications available, along with online gaming and the popular social media platforms provide a significant hunting ground for sexual predators. These predators could be on the other side of the country or down the street waiting for the opportunity to strike.


This exposes our children to criminals who exploit the anonymity of internet-based communication. Knowing what our children do online is just as important as knowing who their friends are and the places they used to visit before the pandemic.


The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit and Crime Prevention Unit have been working with local school districts to facilitate safety information that teaches students, educators, and parents how to protect themselves on the internet, with a common goal to reduce online victimization, increase reporting of criminal activity and provide valuable resources for schools and the community to help guard against child predators.