Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Carmel on the Case: Predators on the Prowl
We've all seen undercover busts on national TV of online predators. They use the internet to find underage victims. But is that happening in South Florida? Just one station was there for a Broward Sheriff's Office bust of accused predators on the prowl. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero exposes South Florida men who, police say, have been trolling for teens online.
WSVN -- They showed up in everything from luxury SUVs and work trucks to a bicycle. They arrived with condoms and lubricants. One even had a loaded gun in his car. They showed up day and night.
Detectives say the men thought they were meeting Broward children for sex.
Carmel Cafiero: "What made you think that it was OK to meet a 14-year-old boy here for sex today?"
Hamid Ackbar: "It wasn't my call. I think I just did a mistake."
Hamid Aackbar is one of 15 men from all walks of life caught by the Broward Sheriff's Office in "Operation Home Alone" -- a special sting aimed at accused internet predators.
Carmel Cafiero: "You sent naked pictures of yourself -- what's the mistake about that?"
Hamid Ackbar: "That is a mistake about that. I shouldn't have sent no pictures anyway, you know what I mean. I shouldn't have sent it at all."
Ronald Real is a construction worker. Derrick Gorman is a car wash detailer. Arrest records show they planned to meet 14 year olds.
The arrest records for Kevin Ulloa Ayala, who is also in construction, and Michael Clements who showed up on a bike, show they thought they were meeting 15 year olds -- but found sheriff's deputies instead.
For two weeks, detectives chatted online, posing as teenagers in an operation that was based out of a rented house in Broward County.
Undercover Detective: "There's no mistake at all. We set up profiles saying that we are children in school."
They had no trouble finding adult men who they believe were interested in one thing: sex with teens.
Undercover Deputy: "He made an eastbound turn."
William Stanley works in a pharmacy. BSO officers say he asked a 14-year-old girl, "What time does your mom leave?"
Deputies say 50-year-old David Feffer of Boca Raton came to the house to meet a 15-year-old boy. During online chats with investigators he had written, "... R U good at keeping secrets? ... I'm not looking for a one time thing, and i could sure use a massage (sic)."
In a duffle bag, authorities discovered lubricants and condoms. Feffer was arrested on his 25th wedding anniversary.
Carmel Cafiero: "How do you think your wife is going to respond?"
Thirty-four-year-old Brian Persten of Coral Springs owns an Italian restaurant. Undercover officers say he showed up for sex with a 13-year-old girl. According to arrest records, Persten wrote: "...Would you touch me..." he also sent a photo of his penis.
Carmel Cafiero: "What impact do you think this is going to have on your family and your restaurant?"
The arrest of 34-year-old Glenn Davidow of Hallandale was the most significant of the operation.
Undercover Detective: "You don't know who they are until they show up."
He is a registered sex offender, first busted back in 1992 after he forced himself on a 13-year-old girl. According to his arrest form, Davidow wrote to whom he believed was a 14-year-old girl and said: "... U gonna be fully naked (sic) ... I bet you would fall in love with me."
Carmel Cafiero: "Can you tell us why you simply can't stay away from little children?"
Glenn Davidow: "No comment."
Carmel Cafiero: "Are you concerned that you're going to be locked up again?"
Glenn Davidow: "No comment."
Omar Cabrera of Hialeah drove his company plumbing van to the house. BSO says he thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl.
Carmel Cafiero: "How do you think your customers are going to react when they see what you've been arrested for?"
And like many of the men arrested in the sting, Cabrera had nothing to say.
Undercover Deputy: "He wants her to come out and wave at him."
Detectives say the prospect of sex with a teen drew men of every age to the house almost every day -- Craig Feldman among them.
Detectives believe he thought he was meeting a 14-year-old boy, an eighth grader.
Feldman had a gun in his car, although he does have a permit for it. According to arrest records, during his online chats he wrote, "... Do u have hair on your chest (sic) ... U home alone (sic) ... wouldn't mind getting off."
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you think your family is going to be disappointed?"
At 24, he is one of several young men now facing the prospect of being labeled a sex offender.
Twenty-one-year-old Michael Tejedor traveled from South Dade to allegedly meet a 14-year-old girl for sex. Authorities say the unemployed young man exposed himself on a web cam before making the trip.
Michael Tejedor: "I just, I don't know. I didn't think. I wasn't thinking, put it that way."
Carmel Cafiero: "You sent pictures of yourself with no clothes on?"
Michael Tejedor: "I wasn't thinking, being stupid, put it that way."
Twenty-one-year-old Craig Martin, who works at a cell phone store, didn't want to face the camera or answer questions. Officers say his plan was to meet a 14-year-old girl.
Dominic Amato: "I'm not speaking."
Twenty-four-year-old Dominic Amato, a stock clerk, also had nothing to say. However, in his chats, arrest documents show he told a 15-year-old boy: "... U have a smooth bubble ass (sic)."
Detectives say 20-year-old Jonathan Myers of Lauderdale Lakes wanted to meet a 14-year-old girl. He told them he was a college student.
Sheriff Ken Jenne: "We want to take these folks off the street."
The sheriff says there's a message in Operation Home Alone.
Sheriff Ken Jenne: "If you're a predator and you come into this community, we're going to do our best to find you and arrest you."
And if you're feeling sympathy for the men caught in this sting, consider this from one of the detectives who poses as a child.
Undercover Detective: "It's just like you're fishing. We're in the pond, and they're fishing for something, and they're looking for us, and that's what they do. They actively search for young people."
And with each arrest, the detectives believe a child has been protected and maybe many others. Although this operation is over, BSO says the search for predators on the prowl continues.
No suspect in this report is connected to Pasquale's Pizza & Subs, nor Pasquale & Son's Pizza Company in Coral Springs.