LAWTON, OK (KSWO) –The Lawton Police Department is commending the actions of a wrecker service employee that led to Jonathan Van Tate's arrest and sentencing.
Jonathan Van Tate's truck was left in a Lawton hotel parking lot after he tried to steal copper and ran off. The truck was being impounded at the hotel's request.
A wrecker service employee was in the middle of inventorying the truck Sept. 18, 2015, when the cell phone started to get numerous alerts, and that's when the employee opened the phone and saw the "vulgar and disturbing" messages. The employee took the phone to the police and told them what happened.
Those messages involved Tate asking a young girl, who said she was 14 at the time, to do sex acts.
Three days later, Tate picked up his impounded truck and was told the phone was given to police. The wrecker service sent a copy of the invoice and Tate's driver's license to the Lawton Police Department.
One of the investigating detectives tracked down the girl in Burkburnett, Texas, and filed for a felony arrest on Tate. A second detective worked on a case against Tate for copper theft.
On Nov. 30, 2015, Tate was arrested when he was found sitting in his truck in the Central Mall parking lot. He would then go on to plead guilty to lewd or indecent proposals to a child under 16 and entering with intent to steal copper on March 31, 2016.
Tate was sentenced to 13 years in prison for making indecent proposals and one year for entering with the intent to steal copper. The two sentences will run together and Tate must serve at least 85 percent before he's eligible for parole. Tate will have to register as a sex offender once he gets out.
"The employee of the wrecker service is to be commended for their alertness and calling the police upon finding the disturbing activity on the cell phone," Det. Nancy Lombardo said.
Lawton Police also mentioned that Tate was convicted on a charge of "Peeping Tom" in Grady County in 2002. He also pleaded guilty to embezzlement in Caddo County on Jan. 20, 2016.