The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a married 27-year-old man who pretended to be a teen and traveled to Sarasota to have sex with a minor.
Sarasota County detectives learned Andrew Michael Brandt, DOB 9/19/86, 12100 Park Blvd., Apt. 1307, Seminole, created a Facebook account as “Mike Berns” and communicated with young girls. He met a Sarasota teen on Tagged.com and told her he was 17. In March of this year he drove to Sarasota and began a sexual relationship with the girl, who was 15 at the time.
Detectives obtained a warrant for Brandt’s arrest and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office took him into custody Thursday. He is charged with three counts of Lewd or Lascivious Battery on a Victim Over 12 and Under 16, and three counts of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor. Brandt is currently being held in the Pinellas County Jail on $60,000 bond and will soon be transferred to the Sarasota County Jail.
Detectives in both counties are concerned there are additional victims who know Brandt as “Mike Berns” or “Andy Berns.” Anyone with information about him should contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Section at 941.861.4900.
Parents: please use this case as the impetus to speak with your children about meeting people online and explain to them that there is no way to know that person’s true identity. Teach and continually reinforce the importance of being safe online. Ask them to show you the websites they visit and have them log in to their accounts at various social media platforms and instant messenger services. Point out safety concerns as they arise. Explain to them that you are not trying to invade their privacy. You are just trying to make sure they are safe.