Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli was arrested Thursday for possession of child pornography, according to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.
DHS Special Agent James Samuels, who authored the formal complaint against Fanelli, accused Fanelli of using a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing service to download and share more than 120 child pornography files from October 2013 to January 2014. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
In the statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharra said that the allegations in this case are “particularly disturbing and sad.” He added, “A senior law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the law, stands accused of breaking the law. And it is the law designed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable of our population from vile exploitation.”
The New York Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security brought the case forward in White Plains federal court. Why DHS? Their Special Investigations unit has an “Operation Predator” task force that deals with these cases nationwide.
We reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DHS for comment, but neither was able to speak to the investigation or the arrest.
Ironically, before his arrest Fanelli had been teaching sexual abuse awareness to elementary and middle-school students for more than a year. Fanelli says he started viewing the pornography as research for those classes, but then for “personal interest.”
Fanelli was arrested in his Mahopac home.
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