Rabbi, Nurse, Cop Arrested in Huge Child-Porn Sweep
Major NYC-area investigation ends with 70 arrests
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2014 10:13 AM CDT
In this Jan. 23, 2014 photo, Mount Pleasant, N.Y. police Chief Brian Fanelli and his wife Sonja exit Federal Court in White Plains, NY.   (AP Photo/The Journal News, Tania Savayan)
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(Newser) – A police officer, a paramedic, a rabbi, a nurse, and a Boy Scout leader were among those arrested in the New York City area in recent weeks as part of a sweeping investigation into the anonymous trading of child porn over the Internet. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which led a five-week investigation ending last week, planned to announce today that it resulted in charges against at least 70 men and one woman. Officials call it one of the largest local roundups ever of individual consumers of child porn, and a stark reminder that they come from all segments of society. "If this operation does anything, it puts the lie to the belief that the people who do this are not productive members of society," says an ICE official.

The cyber dragnet resulted in the seizure of nearly 600 desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices containing a total of 175 terabytes of storage. Agents are still examining the devices to locate and catalog evidence—an arduous task that could result in more arrests. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also will use its analysts to review the images to see if it can identify children using databases of known victims. Authorities decided to launch the operation after the arrest in January of a former police chief in suburban Mount Pleasant, 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."