Canby Police Sgt. Mike Smith busted a sexual predator — a registered sex offender convicted of rape who also was on post-prison supervision for sex abuse — that he pulled over late at night in 2016 in a vehicle with a 16-year-old girl.
On Feb. 3, the driver of the vehicle, 32-year-old Marcus Tong, plead guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison almost 20 criminal counts ranging from use of a child in sexual conduct, online sexual corruption, sex abuse and encouraging sex abuse.
Police Chief Bret Smith wrote a letter of commendation for Sgt. Smith, stating that doing so was not a common occurrence within the Canby PD.
Sgt. Smith visibly was surprised during the Feb. 1 Canby City Council meeting when Chief Smith announced he was going to read aloud the letter of commendation, which spurred a couple of light-hearted jokes from Mayor Brian Hodson about Sgt. Smith's humble reaction.
The letter, obtained by the Canby Herald, says that Sgt. Smith, at approximately 10:52 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2016, was in uniform driving a marked patrol car when he observed a vehicle driving in an erratic manner.
"While attempting to conduct a traffic stop, you observed the vehicle leave the roadway in such a way that you suspected the driver was making an effort to hide from you," Chief Smith said. "When you conducted the traffic stop, you learned the vehicle was occupied by an adult male driver and a minor female passenger. The driver identified himself as being 19 years of age and the female identified herself as being 16 years of age."
Sgt. Smith became suspicious as Tong appeared nervous and would not provide identification, the vehicle's registration or proof that he possessed auto insurance.
He also provided a false name to police — James Chen.
"You asked the driver to tell you his name and date of birth, and on more than one instance the driver lied to you by providing you with a fake name," Chief Smith said.
Tong told Smith "to figure it out," so he did.
Sgt. Smith interviewed the minor female, who stated that she met the Tong through an online dating service and believed him to be 18 years old, as that was what his online profile stated and what he told her, the letter says.
"She explained her prior communication with the driver had been done on the (dating) APP and from text messages, and she expected to have a sexual relationship with the driver on this particular night," Chief Smith said. "Furthermore, you believed the male attempted to commit the crime (of) sex abuse in the third degree because he met with the minor female and requested that she perform acts that she understood to be sexual behavior … Because the driver committed a crime when he lied about his identity, he was placed into custody and detained for failure to carry and present (proper identification) until his true identity could be determined."
Tong also was "not cooperative" and twice tried to escape from Sgt. Smith while handcuffed and in custody by attempting to break free and flee the scene, the letter states.
Through the investigation, Sgt. Smith wrote and executed a search warrant for Tong's cell phone and the profile in the dating app that he used to communicate with the underage girl. Smith also discovered three other juvenile female victims after conducting the search on his phone and on Tong's app profile.
"You have demonstrated yourself to be a worthy investigator," Chief Smith said. "You took full opportunity of your investigative skills to carefully plan each step of the investigation. Your keen sense of awareness of human behavior, intuition and diligence are what made this investigation a success. Initially, what started out as an ordinary traffic stop resulted in the intervention that prevented the sexual abuse of a minor and put a sexual predator behind bars where he can no longer victimize children."