Police sergeant, firefighter and nurse among 24 busted in child sex sting
New Jersey Attorney General's office announced that "Operation Open House" was launched to target men who were using social media to lure underage boys and girls for sex.
Authorities in New Jersey arrested 24 men, uncovered in a week-long sting to nab child molesters, and found out that the suspects included a police seargeant, a firefighter and a nurse too, according to reports.
The New Jersey Attorney General's office on Tuesday announced that "Operation Open House" was launched to target men who were using social media to lure underage boys and girls for sex. However, under the operation, the men online who thought they were taking to children were actually chatting online with undercover police officers.
The names and pictures of all the 24 men have been released by the authorities, and among the men who were arrested was a 47-year-old New Jersey police sergeant Richard Conte. Reports state that Conte was lured to a house where he was expecting to meet a 15-year-old girl. He had reportedly claimed to be a 19-year-old and was carrying condoms in his pocket when he was nabbed by authorities, according to Newsweek. The firefighter was identified as Richard Hoffman.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said that the prime aim of the operation was to instill fear among such sexual predators of undercover officers who can arrest them if the offenders are caught in the act.
"It is a frightening reality that sexual predators are lurking on social media, ready to strike if they find a child who is vulnerable. We want child predators to know that we are on social media too—and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs. That is the message of Operation Open House," Grewal said.
Reports state that the authorities arrested these men over a five-day period between September 5 and September 9, and all of them have been charged with second-degree luring of children.
At least five of the arrested suspects also face charges of attempting to share obscene materials with a child. These men reprotedly sent puictures of their genitals to the undercover cops during the operation. Some other charges expected to be laid against these men include attempted sexual assault of a minor and debauching the morals of a child.
New Jersey State Police's Colonel Patrick Callahan, who assisted with the sting, said that law officials will continue to "turn the tables" on sex offenders and it was disturbing that some of the men who were arrested held public service positions.
"It is disturbing that some of the alleged child predators from this operation held positions of public service and authority, but behind closed doors they went through great lengths to avoid detection online, frequenting social media sites with the sole purpose of targeting unsuspecting children. These arrests serve as a sobering reminder that parents should closely monitor their child’s online activity," Callahan said.
Reports state that all of the men, who were imprisoned at the Ocean County Jail for a week until hearings started last week, have been released on bail, except one man who is a registered sex offender — Thomas Blumensteel.