A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a sports television network engineer from Indiana who was one of 19 men snagged in an online sting after authorities said he traveled to Somerset County to meet what he thought was an underage boy for sex.
Randal Wise, 43, “sent messages via an online dating application to an individual who told Wise that he was a 14-year-old boy in the eighth grade,” but actually was an undercover agent, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
These included crotch pics, he said.
The six-week sting, dubbed "Operation Open Door," was orchestrated last fall by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, in tandem with the State Police, the FBI and other agencies, using members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and two undisclosed residences in the county.
A total of 19 suspects were arrested when authorities said they arrived at the locations expecting to meet an underage boy or girl – similar to the bait-and-catch method popularized by television’s “To Catch A Predator” from Oct. 23 to Oct. 28 of last year.
Wise “engaged in sexual conversations with the UC [undercover] and sent photographs of his genitals to the UC,” Carpenito said.
He “also asked the UC to send nude photographs and invited the UC to his hotel room,” the U.S. attorney said.
The next day, Carpenito said, Wise “again contacted the UC via the dating application and made arrangements to meet in person at a residence in Somerset.
“When Wise arrived at the house, he was arrested by law enforcement agents.”
The indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Newark charges Wise with attempted online enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to the indictment. He also thanked the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Astorga of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division.
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