Monday, August 17, 2009

Nine Men Arrested in Internet Sting in Michigan

Nine men are behind bars accused of trying to have sex with a child after meeting them on the Internet.

Police said the men drove from all over Michigan and Ohio to meet with a cop who posed as a teenager for sex.

The Michigan Attorney General's office and Livingston County Sheriff's department teamed up with Perverted Justice for a three-day sting operation in Howell.

On Monday, Sheriff Robert Bezotte announced results of that sting that took place from Aug 14-16.

Police said more than 150 men attempted to engage in sexual activity with officers posing as children.

"It's very disturbing because we are only touch the tip of the ice berg," said Sheriff Bezotte.

Those arrested include a retired Detroit police officer, a grocery store clerk from Clarkston, a local security guard, a postal carrier and a software engineer from metro Detroit.

The men range from 24 to 53 years old.

The defendants were charged with child sexually abusive activity and using a computer to commit a crime, both felonies.

"The message for predators is loud and clear," said Attorney General Mike Cox. "We are watching. If you attempt to target a child, we will take you offline."

Those arrested are:

George William Allen, 53, of Detroit. Police said Allen is a retired City of Detroit police officer who counseled the undercover agent on how to avoid saving chat logs and threatened to kill himself if turned in.

Allen was arrested at a nearby fast food restaurant parking lot.

John Deleo Custer, 40, of Clawson. Clawson is a grocery store clerk who took a cab from Oakland County to the decoy location, later arriving at the home on foot.

He was arrested outside the home.

Jason Jerome Lombardo, 37, of Eastpointe. Lombardo is a music D.J., who was taken into custody at a nearby fast-food restaurant parking lot.

Michael Thomas Krauss, 49, of LaSalle in Monroe County. Krauss is a security guard who was taken into custody when he walked into the decoy home.

Dipankar Roy, 29, of Columbus, Ohio; reported that he is an Indian citizen in the United States for about a month as a software programmer.

Police said Roy took a cab to the decoy home after taking a bus from Columbus to Detroit.

Timothy John Fitzhugh, 47, of Grand Rapids; also arrested by authorities at a fast-food restaurant parking lot while carrying condoms, lubricant and pornographic videos.

Robert Joseph Smith, 24, of Flint.
Ashish Jain, 29, of Rochester Hills.
Ronald Alan Blake, 50, of Flint.

Police said in each case the men used chat rooms or Craig's List to find the teens.

Internet Crimes Detective Matthew Shutts sat down with Local 4 Monday to show how fast investigators can lure child predators online.

"I've just logged in and had 2 contacts within probably 20 seconds," said Shutts, who was posing as a child looking for sex in an internet chat room.

Cox said investigators will work to locate the men who responded to the online postings and were not arrested.

"This is a reminder for parents that the Internet is being used by predators to target our children," said Cox. "Parents must be monitoring what their kids are doing online and talk often with them about the dangers of communicating with people they don't know and trust."

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