Fairfield, Connecticut, police teamed up with former NBC News reporter Chris Hansen from “To Catch A Predator” in an undercover sting to bust suspected sexual predators targeting children and made 10 arrests.
Ten men are now behind bars after the sex sting operation in Fairfield. The men thought they were talking to children over the internet and through text messages, but they were really talking to Fairfield police and Hansen, police said.
"Over the next month or so, he had received information that there were individuals approaching what they believed to be children -- either a 12-year-old or 13-year-old girl or boy and that they were engaged in this inappropriate discussion on the Internet," Fairfield police Chief Gary McNamara said.
One by one, the men were lured to the Fairfield home and were greeted by investigators, Hansen and a camera crew before being placed under arrest. Police are not releasing the location of that house.
The men arrested are between 19 and 64 years old and most of them from Connecticut.
The charges range from minor risk of injury to a child to attempt of inappropriate sexual behavior.
The following men were arrested in the sting:
- Charles Lawrence, 59, of 8 Pleszko Place in Fairfield
- Michael Manzi, 32, of 42 Haviland St., Apt. 2, Harrison, New York
- Jeffrey Sokol, 44, 1064 Beacon St., Apt. A, Brookline, Massachusetts
- Stephen Buchanan
- Jeffrey Tiriolo
- Vincent Ambrosio, 19, of 6 Swenson Drive, Wappingers Falls, New York
- Jesse Velez, 28, of 3142 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport
- John Dupee
- Joshua Colon, 32, of 72-15 67th St., Apt. 4B, Glendale, New York
- Michael Gentile
The text messages from the suspects were disturbing, according to police, who defend working with Hansen.
"Some of the messages that were sent, some items were sent via the Internet," McNamara said. "And I'll leave you up to the imagination as to what those items may have been, but they were certainly inappropriate and illegal and they shouldn’t be exposing those to what they believed to be children."
Fairfield residents were shocked.
“It’s terrible to have had happened," said George Gallagher, of Fairfield. " I’m surprised at the number of people involved.”
"I’m alarmed and certainly glad they found out and stopped it," Deborah Gallagher, of Fairfield, said.
It's not clear if any of the suspects have attorneys.