New Jersey millionaire who engaged in mid-air sex acts with minor while private plane was on autopilot faces five-year jail term

Stephen Bradley Mell flew the 15-year-old girl in his private plane to engage in sex acts with her and even invited her to spend time alone with him at his Bedminster home

A New Jersey millionaire is facing the possibility of five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a plethora of charges, including engaging in sex acts with a minor and receiving child pornography.

On paper, 53-year-old Stephen Bradley Mell, of Bedminster, New Jersey, was the ideal role model. A father-of-three, Mell boasted of $3.8 million home, a brokerage firm, and even started his own charitable foundation, Air Lifeline, which allowed families of children with medical needs the opportunity to fly anywhere in the country for medical treatment.

According to Bridgewater Courier News, it was his love for flying — he owned two airplanes, a helicopter, and boasted a pilot's license — that would ultimately prove to be his downfall.

In 2017, when Mell was introduced to a 15-year-old girl by her mother for flying lessons, he began communicating with her through text messages and SnapChat. Soon, the conversations became sexual, with a graphic federal complaint filed against him stating he asked her "if she knew how to perform oral sex" and invited her to spend time alone with him at his Bedminster home.

Over the next few months, the 53-year-old allegedly performed sex acts on the girl several times and sent her a message which read, "If you are nervous, it will hurt more. When you are turned on is when it will feel ok."

The federal complaint states he engaged in sexual conduct with the victim while flying by putting the aircraft on autopilot (Getty Images)

The complaint states he flew her in his private plane from Somerset Airport to Barnstable, Massachusetts on Cape Cod "for the purpose of engaging in illicit conduct, specifically, a sexual act with a person under the age of eighteen," and that on the way back, he put the aircraft on autopilot to once again engage in sex acts with her.

Throughout August 2017, he then asked the victim to send him text messages, SnapChat photos, or FaceTime video chats of images of her engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The same month, he took a photo of her with his cell phone while she was standing naked in front of him with her "genital area clearly visible".

Mell pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual assault and receiving child pornography in connection to the incident shortly before Christmas 2018. He may be sentenced to five years in federal prison as well as five years of supervised release in that case.

But the 53-year-old also faces the possibility of another multi-year sentence in state prison after he pleaded guilty to further charges of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual relations with a female victim under the age of 16 in Readington and Bedminster at the Hunterdon County Superior Court this past week.

Mell is currently free on a $1 million bond and agreed to surrender his pilot's license as part of the conditions for his release. He has also agreed to stay 1,000 feet away from the victim's home and place employment, have no use of computers and agree to take periodic tests.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on May 21 and in state court on July 12.


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