YAKIMA — On Friday, January 12, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a Yakima County Superior Court judge sentenced two men to maximum terms of life in prison following their convictions for felony child rape.
A jury convicted Hayden A. Erlandson, from Union Gap, of felony attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in October 2023. A jury convicted Veniamin N. Gaidaichuk, from Everett, of felony attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in September 2023.
Their crimes are subject to the Washington state Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, which sets the terms and conditions of their potential release from prison. The board will consider whether Erlandson or Gaidaichuk are more likely than not to commit another sex crime if they are released from prison.
Erlandson is eligible for board review after he serves more than six years and four months in prison, with credit for time served and other earned release time. If released from prison, he would serve in community custody for the rest of his life under terms the review board sets and under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
Gaidaichuk is eligible for board review after he serves more than six years and 10 months in prison, with credit for time served and other earned release time. If released from prison, he would serve in community custody for the rest of his life under terms the review board sets and under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
“We have held two more men accountable for preying on children,” Ferguson said. “The work of law enforcement across the state to protect children is vital. I appreciate the partnership with the Washington State Patrol and Yakima County to investigate these important cases and bring accountability.”
The prosecutions of Erlandson and Gaidaichuk are two of nine cases the Attorney General’s Office is handling from a November 2019 “Net Nanny” operation in Yakima. State, local and federal law enforcement officers conducted the operation, which the Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force coordinated and led. Detectives posed online as minors interested in sex, or, alternatively, as individuals offering minors for sex. They arrested 16 men.
Yakima County prosecutors initially asked the Attorney’s General’s Office to accept six cases from the operation and recently asked it to accept three additional cases. The Attorney General’s Office does not have authority to initiate criminal prosecutions, unless it receives and accepts a referral from a county prosecutor or the governor.
On Nov. 15, 2019, as detailed in Erlandson’s affidavit of probable cause, Erlandson replied to an online profile created by an undercover task force detective on an online dating and social media website. The detective posed as a 13-year-old girl and described her as “young, short, and sassy. Very independent.”
Erlandson messaged early the next morning to ask the girl if she wanted to meet. The detective replied and they communicated about meeting up later that evening, with a specific discussion about the age of the girl. They exchanged more messages about meeting up to have sex.
The detective sent him an address to a house in Yakima and Erlandson arrived there on the evening of Nov. 16, 2019. When Erlandson arrived and entered the house, law enforcement officers arrested him. He had two condoms in the pocket of his jeans.
On Nov. 15, 2019, as detailed in Gaidaichuk’s affidavit of probable cause, Gaidaichuk posed online as “Ben” and reached out to detectives posing as a 13-year-old girl. Gaidaichuk previously contacted detectives posing as the same girl during a July 2019 law enforcement operation, but they did not arrest Gaidaichuk at that time.
Gaidaichuk agreed to speak over the phone with the girl and spoke with an undercover officer. The officer said she did not have condoms and did not want to get pregnant. Gaidaichuk responded that neither would be an issue and he wanted her to have a good time.
Over texts the following two days, she encouraged him to come to her house in Yakima and she sent him photos. He complimented her appearance then indicated he was on the way to her house. On the evening of Nov. 17, he arrived at the house and law enforcement officers arrested him. There was a box of condoms in the backseat of his vehicle.
Previous four guilty pleas
In June 2022, Yakima judges sentenced an Ellensburg man to more than five years and 9 months in prison and a Nampa, Idaho man to more than four years and 10 months in prison following their guilty pleas.
In February 2023, Richie Robertson, from Yakima, pleaded guilty to one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He was released with 185 days served and will register as a sex offender for 10 years.
In June 2023, Kendrick Yallup-Littlebull, from Yakima, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit first-degree child molestation. A judge sentenced him to more than three years in prison.
Three trials remain scheduled
The Attorney General’s Office also recently accepted three additional cases in the 2019 Net Nanny operation from the Yakima County Prosecutor’s Office:
- Lucas Martinez, 38, from White Swan, is charged with attempted first- and second-degree rape of a child, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
- Leonardo M. Sanchez-Breton, 22, from Union Gap, is charged with attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
- Frederick W. Thomson, 72, from Union Gap, is charged with attempted first- and second-degree rape of a child.
Trials for the three men are expected at a later date.
The charges against Martinez, Sanchez-Breton and Thomson are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Assistant Attorneys General Theo Smith and Nick Kiewik are handling the cases for the Attorney General’s Office.
The Rules of Professional Conduct govern what a prosecutor in a criminal case may say publicly before trial. As the prosecutor in this criminal matter, the Attorney General’s Office and its representatives are prohibited from making public statements beyond the narrow scope allowed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. The office will make every effort to be transparent with the public, while upholding its responsibilities as a criminal prosecutor.