Former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli was only the chief for two months when he was arrested for possessing and downloading child pornography.
Even more alarming, he taught sexual abuse prevention classes to young kids at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish school while engaging in his despicable activity.
Now, his reckless behavior has landed him in prison for 18 months with an additional five years of probation; he must also register as a sex offender. The embattled New York chief was sentenced Wednesday for possession of child pornography.
He will, however, maintain his annual $55,000 pension.
Fanelli pleaded guilty and confessed to his grotesque misconduct.
It all started in January 2014 when he was arrested just two months after becoming the police chief. Department of Homeland Security agents raided his home after his IP address (18.104.22.168) was linked to a peer-to-peer file sharing network where Fanelli downloaded more than 120 files containing child pornography that involved children as young as seven years old.
Agents identified Fanelli’s IP address using undisclosed investigative software. The hash files of the images and videos Fanelli downloaded matched those that were flagged by the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) registry as child pornography.
The IP address had internet via Verizon, Homeland Security agents confirmed through Verizon that the IP address in question in fact belonged to Brian Fanelli.
Fanelli was even bold enough to share his material with undercover federal agents.
One of the videos Fanelli downloaded included a pre-teen female exposing her bare upper and lower private areas. Other pictures and videos included children under ten inserting objects in private areas.
The crimes occurred from October 2013 to January 2014.
Fanelli told investigators that he constantly gathered material for the sexual abuse prevention classes he taught to elementary school students, but after some time he became addicted to the very content he was trying to protect the kids from.
He taught the kids about the pitfalls of social media devices, games, and computer applications.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas said, “This is probably one of the most tragic and sad cases I’ve seen, the conduct here is very serious, the viewing of child pornography is part of a chain of child exploitation and abuse.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the case, “disturbing and sad,” he went on to say, “The police chief is accused of breaking a law designed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable of our population from vile exploitation.”
Fanelli was on the police force for 30 years and garnered a $135,518 a year salary as police chief. He retired shortly after his arrest and now gets a $55,831 pension. His prison sentence will begin on April 20, 2016.
Being a sex offender is no easy life. Sex offenders are not allowed to use computers or be in the presence of minors without supervision. Sex offenders are also not allowed to have social media accounts. Sex offenders must get permission from the state before they can move to a new residence. Offenders also cannot have contact with magazines, videos, telephone sites or anything else with pornographic content. In some cases, offenders are not even allowed to purchase or posses alcohol.
Police Sexual Misconduct Continues
Earlier this week, a North Carolina Sheriff’s Deputy pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography. Deputy Jon Thomas of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office admitted to downloading and viewing child pornography for a period of two years. Similar to former Police Chief Fanelli, Thomas’s IP address was identified by law enforcement agents on the peer to peer file sharing website Shareaza.
Through a search warrant, agents seized two laptop computers and an iPhone from Thomas’s home. The illegal child pornographic content was found on the confiscated devices.
He has since lost his job upon his arrest. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March 2016.
On Thursday, a New York police Sergeant was sentenced to three years of probation for texting a picture of his genitals to a 16-year-old girl. Martin Zaloga, 45, of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department pleaded guilty to child endangerment in November of 2014.
Also, a Missouri sheriff’s deputy was arrested this week for possession of child pornography. Juan Jones of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department was fired and arrested by his own sheriff.
Jones admitted to authorities that he had thousands of videos and images of child pornography in his on-line drop box and Tumblr accounts. He also admitted to a habit of viewing child pornography for a period of the last ten years.
The complaint notes that some of the material in Jones’s online accounts included , “infants forced to engage in sexual acts.” Authorities began investigating Jones after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Oddly enough, Jones has two young children of his own and is married.