A Pasco sheriff's deputy who was fired last week after authorities say he showed up to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex in Davie pleaded not guilty and was released from jail Thursday.

Matthew Bondi, 22, of Port Richey and Deerfield Beach, pleaded not guilty to a charge of luring or enticing a minor into sexual activity during the hearing in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow placed Bondi on house arrest and ordered him to wear an electronic monitor. The judge ruled Bondi was not a risk of flight or danger to the community and agreed he could be released on a $200,000 bond, secured by his parents' home in Deerfield.

She ordered Bondi to live with his parents and imposed several strict conditions that include having no contact with the alleged victim or any witnesses; attending any recommended counseling or treatment; and forbidding him from having any access to guns, the Internet or pornography.

If convicted, Bondi faces 10 years to life in federal prison.

Federal prosecutor Catherine Koontz asked the judge to keep Bondi locked up pending trial, saying Bondi showed up to meet a 15-year-old he had been communicating with online.

The teen, from Davie, met Bondi online last year on Grindr, an all-male, location-based social networking site that is mostly used for arranging sexual hookups. The two later communicated on Snapchat.

Davie Detective Adam Granit testified he took control of the teen's phone this summer after the boy's parents became concerned about messages he was receiving. The teen told investigators he had posed as an 18-year-old on Grindr, because the app has an age requirement, but told men who communicated with him that he was 15.

After Granit began posing as the boy, he said Bondi sent him very sexually graphic messages. They arranged to meet at a Davie strip mall on Aug. 4. The detective said he told Bondi more than once he was meeting a 15-year-old virgin, but Bondi still showed up and was arrested.

"Even if you don't believe [the victim] told Bondi he was 15, the detective made it very clear," Koontz said. "It didn't stop him from meeting a minor and giving graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do to him."

Bondi's lawyer, Mike Dutko, told the judge investigators only have the teen's word that he told Bondi he was 15 soon after they began communicating. Dutko acknowledged the messages Bondi exchanged with the undercover detective before the meeting made it clear he was meeting a minor.

The judge said she thought it was credible that Bondi, who was 21 when he began communicating with the alleged victim, may have believed he was an adult who was only a few years younger than himself.

She said Bondi did not appear to be a "sexual predator" and said Bondi's alleged conduct appeared to be different to that of a middle-aged person attempting to meet a minor. She said any arrangement to meet a minor for a sexual encounter was obviously a matter for concern.

Prosecutors said Bondi planned to meet the teen and take him to a hotel last week. Granit testified that Bondi sent a message he would arrive in a white Honda but showed up in a black Ford F-150 pickup truck. Granit said he thought that was an attempt by Bondi to make sure he was meeting the teen and was not the target of a law enforcement sting.

Dutko said Bondi, who had been working as a Pasco sheriff's deputy for less than a year, came home to Broward County to celebrate his 22nd birthday.

Prosecutors said Bondi told a defense psychologist who examined him that he had a "lapse of judgement" and he had "been drinking for four days" before agreeing to meet the teen.

Koontz said she was also concerned Bondi was a risk to himself, because of the nature of the allegations, the embarrassment of being arrested, the punishment he could face and the loss of his job.

But Dutko said Bondi has tremendous family support from his parents, siblings and others, who sent Bondi letters in jail that did not minimize the seriousness of the allegations but assured him they will help him get through it.

The judge said because of that family support, the fact Bondi would be living with his parents until his trial and no longer has a job as a deputy in Pasco County, he is not a flight risk or a danger to himself. She imposed numerous restrictions on him, including confiscating his expired passport and subjecting him to random searches.


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