Former FBI informant accused of fraud sprung from jail

A three-time convicted sex offender who helped the FBI as an informant in a terrorism case was released from the Stock Island jail last week.

According to the Monroe County Sherriff's Office inmate-releases web page, Robert Childs, 38, was released without bond Jan. 28 at 3:45 p.m.

Childs was charged with five felony counts of fraudulent credit-card use and two felony counts of failing to register as a sex offender back on July 4, 2014.

A day before, Key West Police Officer Deandre Morris started his investigation into the credit-card use when William Michael Reed, the manager of the Johnny Rockets restaurant on Duval Street, told him Childs, an ex-employee, had been using an illicit American Express card.

Reed provided Morris with five separate receipts of transactions Childs allegedly made that totaled $863.11 and took place between May 15 and May 25, 2014.

According to the police report, Childs worked at Johnny Rockets for two months before quitting May 24. He later worked as a bartender for Pinchers Crab Shack on Duval Street, where he was arrested on the Fourth of July.

After a computer check found that Childs was a convicted sex offender in Washington, Officer Janeth Calvert asked him if he was registered in Florida as a sex offender. He told Calvert he was not because he did not know the state law.

However, once in jail, Childs had a different story for Calvert.

"Childs stated that he did not register in the state of Florida because he was hiding from a previous case he worked with detectives in Seattle, Washington," Calvert wrote.

According to Calvert, Childs also had been in arrested in Washington, Oregon and California for failing to register as a sex offender.

According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, the FBI paid Childs $90,000 for help in the eventual capture and prosecution of "would-be terrorists" Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh in Seattle.

The FCIR reported on how Childs led the operation, including supplying Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh with assault rifles before federal agents arrested the two in 2011. They had allegedly planned to attack a military station in Washington state.

Both Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh pleaded guilty and were sentenced in 2013 to 18 years and 17 years, respectively, in prison on multiple terrorism-related charges. 

Prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo for Mujahidh that he "made clear that he was eager to kill his intended victims, and as many as possible. He made numerous statements along these lines while he and Abdul-Latif planned out the play-by-play movements of the attackers using the map of the Federal Center South building."

However, FCIR also found that Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were mentally ill and had no contacts with terrorists domestically or abroad. It’s not clear how Childs got involved.

"Unfortunately we would not confirm or deny if someone is or has been an informant for the FBI," FBI spokesman Michael Leverock told the Keynoter via e-mail.

Outside of his Key West arrest, Childs was twice convicted of third-degree rape and once convicted of third-degree child molestation between February 1995 and March 2001 in King, Wash. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sexual-offender database, one of Childs' victims was a female minor. The database shows that he now has an address on Thomas Street in Key West.

Despite his release from jail, Childs is scheduled to stand trial in front of Monroe County Judge Wayne Miller at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 17.