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Former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Pleads Guilty To Child Porn Charge

The arrest of former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli on charges of possession of child pornography prompted a federal probe that resulted in more than 70 arrests.
The arrest of former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli on charges of possession of child pornography prompted a federal probe that resulted in more than 70 arrests. Photo Credit: ice.gov

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli, of Mahopac, entered a guilty plea on Monday to possession of child pornography.

Fanelli, 56, was arrested in January 2014, just two months after becoming police chief, when federal agents raided his home. Federal authorities accused him of downloading and sharing more than 120 files containing pornographic images and video of children.

Fanelli entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas at the federal courthouse in White Plains. The one count of possessing child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and maximum fine of $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Fanelli had been a member of the Mount Pleasant Police Department for more than 30 years. In exchange for his guilty plea on one count, federal prosecutors agreed not to recommend more than four years and three months in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12. He has been allowed to remain under home confinement, with electronic monitoring, in the meantime.

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security, which used evidence seized from a search of Fanelli's computer network to build at least 70 other child pornography cases that have included a rabbi and a Boy Scout leader.

In a press statement, Bharara said, “By his guilty plea to downloading and possessing child pornography, Brian Fanelli, a former police chief who swore to protect and serve, admitted to a crime that victimizes and exploits some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

According to the federal complaint and indictment, Fanelli used a "peer-fo-peer," or P2P, file-sharing program to download files containing images and video. Undercover Homeland Security agents used the P2P Network to download files believed to contain child pornography, the federal complaint said.

The complaint said Fanelli told investigators he initially used the pornographic images as research for sex abuse awareness classes he taught to schoolchildren. Fanelli later began viewing them for personal interest, according to federal investigators.

"I'm truly sorry for the harm I've caused, especially to the victims in this case but also to my family, my police department and the government," Fanelli told Karas, according to LoHud.com.

Karas mentioned that the ex-police chief may have to register as a sex offender, according to LoHud.?

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