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Wallingford bus driver sentenced for enticing 13-year-old to engage in illegal sexual activity, planning her murder

Police located over 200 text messages or calls and a sexually explicit photo between 38-year-old Jose Santos and the minor on her phone.
Credit: FOX61

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced Wednesday that a Bridgeport man was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison for enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, and for obstructing justice by attempting to have the minor victim murdered.

According to a release, 38-year-old Jose Santos was a bus/van driver who transported children to and from a Wallingford middle school. 

Santos was arrested in November of 2018, a month after officials were notified that he was sexually soliciting a 13-year-old girl who was a passenger on his route. 

During an investigation, police located over 200 text messages or calls between Santos and the 13-year-old on her phone.

Additionally, Santos sent a sexually explicit photo to the minor victim, and multiple messages coercing her to send him one of herself.

Officials said while in federal custody, he engaged an undercover officer, to have the 13-year-old victim murdered to prevent her from testifying against him.

In December of 2019, the undercover officer told Santos in a phone call that victim had been murdered, which led to him immediately asking the undercover officer to collect background information on an Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting Santos’ case.

Santos pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity on February 20, 2020.

According to a release, Santos’ criminal history includes convictions for reckless endangerment, assault and larceny offenses.  In 2003, he was convicted of offenses related to his running from police, stealing a police cruiser, striking the officer with the car door when the officer attempted to stop him, and dragging the officer as Santos sped off in the stolen cruiser.

This matter was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Connecticut Department of Correction.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy V. Gifford and Brian P. Leaming.

This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

To report cases of child exploitation, click here