FENTON, Mo. – A Fenton man pleaded guilty Tuesday in a sex crimes investigation after he was busted by an undercover officer.

Robert Payne, 77, pleaded guilty to one felony charge of solicitation of child pornography in federal court Tuesday. Payne admitted that he repeatedly tried to talk to boys at parks around St. Louis County, behavior that sparked multiple complaints to police.

In March 2021, an officer pretended to be a 16-year-old who played basketball at a park while Payne sat in a car. Payne began talking to the undercover officer, offered to perform sex acts and gave the undercover officer his contact information.

Payne later contacted the officer with the number he was given and repeatedly offered to engage in sex acts. According to the plea agreement, Payne also requested a picture of genitals via text, which later led to his arrest.

Prosecutors say Payne was also investigated over allegations that he approached a teenage boy at a Sunset Hills park in 2018 and offered to perform oral sex on him. He later pleaded guilty to a harassment charge in that case.

Payne is scheduled to be sentenced in November and he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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