A suspended Jersey Shore police officer seeking sex with a 15-year-old girl arranged a tryst with what turned out to be an undercover investigator, an indictment returned Wednesday charges.
Richard C. Conte, 48, of Farmingdale, used his work phone at the Howell Township Police Department to chat with the investigator with the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Although the investigator “repeatedly indicated that ‘she’ was 15 years old,” Conte “continued to chat with her online and email her,” claiming that he was only 19, Grewal said.
Four days after the first contact, Conte “arranged to meet her for sexual activity at a location in Toms River,” the attorney general said.
He showed up with condoms in his pocket on Sept. 6, 2018 and was arrested, Grewal said.
The detective was part of “Operation Open House,” an operation conducted by a special multi-agency task force that arrested 24 men who Grewal said “used social media to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity.”
A state grand jury indictment returned in Trenton charges Conte with luring (enticing) a child, attempted sexual contact with a victim 13-15 years old, attempted child endangerment and official misconduct.
Deputy Attorney General Supriya Prasad presented the case to the grand jury for the state Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau.
“In addition to investigating cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, and the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force routinely conduct undercover chat investigations on social media platforms leading to arrests of hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children.
“They also conduct proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography.”
The attorney general urged anyone with information about the online distribution of child pornography, suspected improper contact by adults with children or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
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