NEW YORK (AP) – A longtime celebrity gossip columnist was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for soliciting sex over the Internet from an undercover FBI agent posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Timothy McDarrah, who once worked on the New York Post’s “Page Six” feature and last worked as editor of the “Hot Stuff” column at US Weekly magazine, held back tears during his appearance in a Manhattan courtroom.

“Why did I do this?” he asked U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty. McDarrah’s attorney blamed his client’s conduct on an Internet addiction. McDarrah, who was in previous legal trouble, years ago, when he battled a heroin addiction, apologized to his family for ruining his life a second time.

“I’m at rock bottom once again,” he said. McDarrah, 43, was convicted of attempted child enticement in December after an eight-day trial.

The writer was caught in the FBI’s sting after he responded to a classified ad on offering introductions to the “freshest, youngest” girls in New York. The FBI had posted the ad to lure pedophiles.

The agent and McDarrah exchanged several messages, including some in which McDarrah offered money and gifts for sex. He was arrested after going to an address that the agent had described as the 13-year-old girl’s home.

McDarrah, who also wrote a column for the Las Vegas Sun, will have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

AP-ES-04-20-07 1907EDT

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