Operation Catfish Yields Seven Sexual Predator Arrests in Rockland County
A cybercrime operation involving numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies under the direction of the Rockland County District Attorney's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has resulted in the arrest of seven individuals in Rockland County.
Operation Catfish Results in Seven Arrests And One Guilty Plea in Rockland County
Rockland County District Attorney's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or RCDAO ICAC for short, has a mission of identifying individuals online who attempt to lure children to meet for sex, or those who disseminate child sexual abuse material.
The recent completion of a months long cybercrime operation targeting these areas has resulted in seven 'sexual predator' arrests and one guilty plea since January 2022 when the initiative began.
The District Attorney's Office shared the following report on the arrests made to date. The group below includes defendants that used media platforms which possessed child sexual abuse material:
- Peter Tralongo [age 34, Valley Cottage, NY] – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (D Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony)
- Byron Diaz-Jeronimo [24, Spring Valley, NY] – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (D Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony).
- Lazaro Hernandez [40, Suffern, NY] – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (D Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony).
- Michael Anelli [24, Palisades, NY] – Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony) 25 counts.
The defendants below were identified as those who used chatrooms and social media platforms to engage in inappropriate conversations with minors, then attempt to lure them into meeting for sex:
- Tomasz Szeliga [32, Orangetown, NY] – Attempted Criminal Sexual Act 2nd (D Felony), Attempted Disseminating Indecent Materials to Minors 1st (D Felony), and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony).
- Ryan Mowery [36, Johnstown, NY] - Attempted Dissemination of Indecent Material to Minors– 1st Degree (E Felony)
- Brian Reed [34, Sussex, NJ] – Rape 2nd Degree and Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors 1st Degree (*Charged Federally)
Tomasz Szeliga was identified as individual who pled guilty to his charge, and according to the DA's report, is scheduled to be sentenced to 3 years in state prison.
Rockland DA Top Priority To Protect Innocent Children From Being Preyed On
Thomas E. Walsh II, Rockland County District Attorney, made it very clear that protecting innocent children was his top priority. If someone is pressing upon young children in the county, their team will work with federal, state, and local partners to 'track you down.'
Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, Ivan J. Arvelo, echoed the idea, stating the following:
It’s a frightening reality that there are people lurking online who want to harm or exploit children. Tracking down these individuals takes significant resources and close cooperation across jurisdictions, but these results show what can be achieved when we work together. We are proud to partner with the Rockland County Internet Crimes Against Children task force as we work towards our shared goal to find those who prey on children and bring them to justice.
The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has been a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children since 2020, the year that DA Walsh was elected.