HARRISBURG, PA – Agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit have recently arrested three suspected Internet predators, including a plumber from New York state who traveled to Lawrence County to have sex with what he believed was a 13-year old girl; a computer technician from Lackawanna County who used online chat rooms to sexually proposition what he believed was a young girl; and a chef from Wayne County accused of sending 14 nude webcam videos to an undercover agent using the online profile of a young teen.
“Predators have come from every corner of our state, and as far away as Florida, Texas and Massachusetts, all trying to use the Internet to have some form of sexual contact with children,” Attorney General Tom Corbett said. “They use popular social networking sites and online chat rooms to search for young victims, looking for kids who are lonely, curious, trusting or otherwise vulnerable.”
Corbett identified the defendants as:
Jeffery A. Kimmel, 43, 618 Persons St., East Aurora, NY.
Michael Latona, 34, 311 Elizabeth St., Dunmore, Lackawanna County.
Joseph Thomas Ursich, 41, 159 Swamp Brook Road, Hawley, Wayne County.
Jeffery A. Kimmel
Corbett said that Kimmel allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit on January 13, 2010. At the time, the agent was using the online profile of a 13 year old girl from New Castle, Lawrence County.
According to the criminal complaint, Kimmel used his cell phone camera to send a nude photo of himself during their first online chat and expressed a desire to engage in sexual activity with the girl. Kimmel also allegedly offered to bring the girl gifts, promising to bring her a sexual device in her favorite color (pink) and wine coolers if she agreed to meet – telling her that he would teach her about sex and “show her everything.”
Corbett said that Kimmel allegedly asked for the girl’s address so he could use an Internet mapping program to plan his trip, telling her that they could have sex in his truck – commenting, “back seat is big,” and, “we are gonna have fun in my truck.”
Kimmel was arrested on January 22nd, when he arrived at a predetermined meeting location in Lawrence County, driving a vehicle that matched a description provided during online chats.
Corbett said that agents executed a search warrant on Kimmel’s vehicle, seizing a pink sexual device and wine coolers.
Kimmel is charged with three counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual offenses), a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines.
Additionally, Kimmel is charged with three counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual offenses), a second degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and $25,000 fines.
Kimmel is also charged with three counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual offenses), three counts of unlawful contact (related to explicit sexual materials) and three counts of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Kimmel was lodged in the Lawrence County prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail, awaiting a preliminary hearing on February 9th, at 9:30 a.m., before New Castle Magisterial District Judge Melissa A. Amodie.
Corbett thanked the New Castle Police Department, the Erie County New York Sheriff’s Department, the New York Department of Motor Vehicle and the New York State Information Center for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
Kimmel will be prosecuted in Lawrence County by Deputy Attorney General William F. Caye II of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Latona, an Information Technology technician, allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact what he believed was a 13-year old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover agent using the online profile of a fictitious child from the Harrisburg area.
Corbett said that during a series of online chats, Latona allegedly discussed meeting the girl for sex and sent the girl numerous pornographic photos and videos. He is also accused of using a computer webcam to send nude or sexually explicit webcam videos of himself to the girl.
Latona is charged with four counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual materials or performances), along with one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Latona was preliminarily arraigned on January 26th and later released on $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled at a future date in Lackawanna County Central Court.
Corbett thanked the Dunmore Police Department for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
Latona will be prosecuted in Lackawanna County by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Joseph Thomas Ursich
Corbett said that Ursich allegedly used an Internet chat room to contact an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit who was using the online profile of a 13-year old girl.
According to the criminal complaint, Ursich sent a webcam video of himself masturbating during his first online chat. Over the next several weeks, Ursich allegedly sent a total of 14 sexually explicit webcam videos.
Corbett said Ursich also allegedly encouraged the girl to masturbate during their online chats and asked her to send him nude photos.
Ursich is charged with 14 counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual materials or performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Ursich was preliminarily arraigned before Hawley Magisterial District Judge Bonnie L. Carney and lodged in the Wayne County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 3rd, at 9 a.m., at the Wayne County Central Courthouse.
Corbett thanked Pennsylvania State Police Honesdale for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
Ursich will be prosecuted in Wayne County by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit.
Since its creation in 2005, the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit has arrested 250 people, all accused of sexually propositioning children online or sending pornographic or nude photos and videos.
Corbett explained that online predators work in many different ways. Some try to arrange meetings with kids, while others draw satisfaction from sending nude photos or sexually explicit videos to children.
“Computer and cell phone technology makes it fast and easy to send messages or images, and many of the suspects arrested by the Child Predator Unit began sexually graphic discussions during their first online conversations with children,” Corbett said. “The best defense for parents is to regularly discuss Internet safety with their children and actively monitor their online activities.”
Corbett encouraged parents to considering the following family Internet safety tips:
Know what children are doing online.
Understand the websites they use and who they are communicating with.
Review their MySpace and Facebook pages or other online profiles.
Make sure children do not give out personal information, like their names, ages or addresses.
Talk to them about the dangers of face-to-face meetings with strangers.
Encourage children to report any inappropriate contact involving strangers, including sexually suggestive comments or attempts to arrange face-to-face meetings.
Do your own research – use Google or other Internet searches to see what your children, or their friends, may be posting online.
Suspected Internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit using the “report a predator” link, located on the front page of the Attorney General’s website, or by calling the Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044.
Internet safety tips and other information are available in the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just for Kids” sections of the Attorney General’s website. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations, can contact the Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)