A bus driver from Fairfield County has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, and for obstructing justice by attempting to have the minor victim murdered.
Jose Manuel Santos, age 38, of Bridgeport, was sentenced on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to the time in prison, as well as seven years of supervised release, said John H. Durham, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Santos was employed by Curtin Livery as a bus/van driver in Connecticut with responsibilities that included transporting children going to and from a middle school in Wallingford.
In October 2018, law enforcement received information that Santos was sexually soliciting a 13-year-old girl who was a passenger on his route.
Analysis of the minor victim’s cell phone records revealed more than 200 text messages or calls between Santos and the victim, a sexually explicit photo of Santos were sent to the minor victim, and multiple messages in which Santos coerced the victim to send him a sexually explicit photo of her, the US Attorney's Office said.
Santos has been detained since his arrest in November 2018.
In the fall of 2019, while Santos was in federal custody and awaiting trial, Santos engaged an individual and, subsequently, an undercover law enforcement officer, to have the 13-year-old victim murdered to prevent her from testifying against him.
In a phone call on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, the undercover officer told Santos that the victim had been murdered.
Immediately after receiving the information, Santos asked the undercover officer to begin collecting background information on an Assistant U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting Santos’ case.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, Santos pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Santos’s criminal history includes convictions for reckless endangerment, assault, and larceny offenses. In 2003, he was convicted of offenses related to his running from police, stealing a police cruiser, striking the officer with the car door when the officer attempted to stop him, and dragging the officer as Santos sped off in the stolen cruiser.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.