A 27-year-old married man from Seminole faces criminal
charges after Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputies say he duped a 15-year-old
into having sex with him.
Andrew Michael Brandt of Pinellas County created a fake Facebook account under the name of Mike Berns, deputies said in an email to media. He used that account to speak with young girls. Brandt also visited the site Tagged.com to talk with teens. That’s where deputies say he met a 15-year-old girl from Sarasota.
In March 2013, Brandt drove to Sarasota to begin a sexual relationship with the girl, deputies say. He told her he was 17.
A search warrant for Brandt’s home in Pinellas County was obtained earlier this week and Pinellas County deputies arrested him on Thursday, Sept. 26. He faces three counts of lewd or lascivious battery and three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He is being held in the Pinellas County jail on $60,000 bond and will soon be extradited to Sarasota County.
Deputies in both Pinellas and Sarasota counties fear the 15-year-old might not be the only victim. They are asking for anyone with information about “Mike Berns” or “Andy Berns” to contact the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Section at 941-861-4900.
Parents are also being urged to use the case to speak to their children about the dangers of meeting people online.
“Explain to them that there is no way to know that person's true identity,” the email to media stated. “Teach and continually reinforce the importance of being safe online.”