At least 7 with Hudson Valley ties among 71 arrested in child porn bust

A five-week investigation has resulted in charges against at least 70 men and one woman in the New York City area in what officials called one of the largest-ever roundups locally of people who anonymously trade child porn over the Internet.



At least seven of the people arrested have ties to the Hudson Valley including one person from Rockland County, two from Putnam County, one from Sullivan County, one from Duchess County and two from Westchester County.



In Putnam, John Asmodeo, 30, of Carmel is accused of secretly taping children and Christian Cote, of Kent, is accused of possessing child porn.



Jonathan Silber, a Boy Scout den leader and Little League baseball coach, was arrested at his residence in Suffern on May 9. Silber was charged with possession of child pornography.



Kenneth Gardner, a registered nurse at Westchester County Medical Center, was arrested at his residence in Astoria on numerous child pornography charges.



Authorities decided to launch the operation after the January arrest of Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli, who pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of knowingly receiving and distributing child pornography. Court papers allege that Fanelli told investigators he began looking at child porn as research before it grew into a "personal interest."



Fanelli is accused of downloading more than 100 files, images and videos of child pornography. "He coincidentally happened to be the first person we identified when we started to look at Internet protocol addresses," said ICE Special Agent James Hayes.



In May, agents on computers created a digital dragnet with the same tactics used in the Fanelli case: Agents posed as collectors of child porn who wanted to anonymously trade it through file-sharing programs. Once given access to shared child porn photos and videos, the agents identified the numeric IP addresses of the sources of the material. The undercover agents used specific search times to find the child porn files, some shockingly descriptive and uncomfortable to hear.



The next step was to subpoena Internet service providers to obtain about 1,000 names associated with the IP addresses. The investigators narrowed the list down to 100 people who were the most active and recent traders, and obtained search and arrest warrants.



The agents who fanned out to do the searches claim they encountered many people who not only offered to show them what was on their computers, but also seemed eager to admit their guilt. One who had downloaded a video gave a written statement saying "he knew he should not be doing it and he thought no one would know what he was doing," court papers said.



Authorities say some of the victims date back to the 1970s, and anyone who views the pictures or shares them is responsible for revictimizing the innocent.



AP wires were used in this report.


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