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Mercer County Man Arrested In Panama On Child Porn Charges

(Credit Getty Images)

(Credit Getty Images)

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man authorities said posed as a girl in video chats with a South American teenager appeared at a hearing Wednesday at which federal prosecutors asked that he be held without bail because they said he is a flight risk.

Fredy Arbito, 31, of Hightstown, made an initial appearance on a charge of one count of child pornography possession. Federal prosecutors at the hearing said Arbito may face more charges for producing child pornography. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

Arbito only said, “Yes, I do,” when a judge asked whether he understood the right to remain silent. Prosecutors will now work to gather evidence.

Beginning in July 2011, federal prosecutors say, Arbito posed online as a 14-year-old girl named Angely in Cali, Colombia, and befriended a teenage girl in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Arbito and the girl engaged in video chats where he had the teen appear nude, prosecutors said.

The victim described the defendant to officials as a young girl with curly light brown hair, according to the complaint, but authorities would not say how Arbito appeared in the video chats.

During several chats, Arbito took still photos from the videos and then began threatening the girl in emails one year later, according to a complaint.

Arbito told the girl he would send the images to her friends on Facebook if she didn’t continue to engage in sexually explicit conduct online, the complaint said.

The girl wouldn’t reply to his emails, and he sent four images to one of her friends on Facebook, authorities said. When authorities in Ecuador had Arbito’s Internet Protocol address traced, they found it was registered to a user in Hightstown and alerted officials there, authorities said.

The IP address was also traced to username “eDonkey2000″ that was found on a file-sharing network known for trading child porn.

Arbito was arrested on the run in Panama and returned to the U.S. last month. His home was searched in January. His lawyer, David Oakley, said he turned himself in.

Despite the dense cache of child porn cases that come through New Jersey practically every day, the Homeland Security Investigations unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is doing everything it can to stop them, said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI in Newark.

McLees said the aim is to create deterrents before people share images — “Just that pause, ‘Should I really do this?’”

McLees said there has been a shift in focus at the agency from targeting those creating and distributing to trying to identifying victims through the photo, any way they can, to get them help.

“We look at the wallpaper. We look at street signs,” McLees said. “It’s not just good enough to arrest the guy.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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