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Sun, Nov. 17

Last two defendants in case of man who posed as a child take plea deals

The cases against all four defendants involved in the scheme to get a grown man enrolled as a student at Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley are winding down, now that the final two defendants have taken plea agreements.

Lonnie Eugene Stiffler and Robert James Snow approved their plea agreements on March 4 and they, along with Neil Havens Rodreick II, who also has accepted a plea agreement, face sentencing on April 7 in Division 6 of Superior Court at the Yavapai County Courthouse, 120 S. Cortez St.

A judge will sentence Snow and Stiffler at 9 a.m. with Rodreick's sentencing following at 11 a.m.

Attorneys for Snow and Stiffler did not return phone calls seeking comment.

On March 9, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Robert M. Brutinel sentenced a third defendant in the case, Brian Jay Nellis, 37, to three consecutive 17-year sentences with no chance of parole for three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Brutinel said Nellis had a prior felony conviction on similar charges in Oklahoma and that he did not believe Nellis would change his ways.

Sheriff's deputies arrested the men in January 2007 after Rodreick posed as a 12-year-old boy and tried to enroll at the Chino Valley school. Although he was 30 at the time, he shaved his body and wore makeup to look younger.

School officials said they became suspicious of Rodreick's appearance and paperwork. They initially thought he might be an older, abducted child.

Rodreick was attending his first day of school when officials began verifying his documents.

He has since accepted a plea agreement that could land him in prison for 70.5 years without parole.

A grand jury originally indicted Snow on 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor (child pornography), fraudulent scheme, attempted child molestation, attempted sexual conduct with a minor, failure to register as a sex offender and five counts of forgery.

A grand jury indicted Stiffler on charges of 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, fraudulent scheme, attempted child molestation, at-tempted sexual conduct with a minor and five counts of forgery.

Stiffler pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor, fraud scheme and two counts of attempted child molestation, according to court documents.

Snow pled guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, fraud scheme and two counts of attempted child molestation, the documents show. On the two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, Snow has agreed to serve not less than 22 years without probation.

Stiffler has agreed to serve not less than 14 years without probation on the sexual exploitation of a minor charge against him.

It will be up to a judge to determine exactly what sentences all three men will get.

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