73-year-old man convicted in sex sting

A 73-year-old Fairfax man arrested as part of a state police sting operation at Conway Robinson State Park near Gainesville will have to pay — literally — for the crime he committed.

General District Judge Peter W. Stekete told Joseph Eugene Winton of 11311 Eldenderry Drive, Fairfax, to return to the courtroom Monday afternoon to find out how much he would be fined, as part of his final disposition.

Winton pleaded guilty Friday to charges of indecent exposure and criminal solicitation. The prosecution dropped a further charge, felony sodomy.

Defense attorney Mark J. Petrovich argued against the fine, reminding the judge of his client’s age and lack of previous record.

“Mr. Winton has never been in court before,” Petrovich argued, “The court can’t overlook [the fact that] he’s been a model citizen.”

Petrovich added that Stekete hadn’t punished to such an extent any of the previous defendants brought before the court on similar charges resulting from the months-long sting operation at Conway Robinson.

Winton was one of 30 men arrested in the continuing sting operation at Conway Robinson that began in April and resulted in 71 charges for similar offenses.

Stekete replied that he had no problem setting a precedent with Winton’s case since punishments meted out in previous cases hadn’t proved deterring.

“My decision to get taxpayers off the hook [for the cost of the sting] is a reasonable one,” Stekete said, “You have prevented the local community from enjoying the park.”

The 400-acre park, located west of Manassas National Battlefield Park, is popular among horseback riders and mountain bikers. Stekete said he was particularly horrified to learn from troopers that Conway Robinson State Park is listed on a New Orleans-based Internet site as a location for homosexual activity. The site also lists Chinn Ridge at the battlefield park and Interstate 66 rest area bathrooms near Manassas.

“This is bothersome,” Stekete said, “This property is not exclusively for their enjoyment, if that’s what it is.”

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