The Enterprise of Brockton, Mass.
Sex fiends avoid prison
By Maureen Boyle
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Only a fraction of men nabbed in police online sex stings in Plymouth County went to jail — even though a majority admitted trying to lure children over the Internet, a review of recent records shows.
Of the 34 men charged in online police stings since October 2005, 21 pleaded guilty so far.
But only five served jail time ranging from 90 days to one year — even though prosecutors asked they all be locked up.
And in three of those cases where the men were sentenced to jail terms, they were set free because they had already served the equivalent of the sentence while awaiting trial, records show.
The 21 men who pleaded guilty in district courts or in Brockton Superior Court received suspended sentences, probation or their cases were continued without a finding. Cases against 13 men are still pending.
"It is probably not the best message to send. ... It is an offense that deserves time in jail," Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald said.
The men had been arrested — including 16 last summer in a sting dubbed "Operation Trenchcoat" — following investigations by the Plymouth County sheriff department's High Tech Evidence Analysis Team (HEAT) and state police.
One of the suspects arrested, Sean Dodgson, a Plymouth selectmen at the time, is awaiting trial. He has since resigned as selectman under pressure.
In the investigations, authorities posed as young girls and were enticed by men online who tried to lure them into sexual encounters.
Several of the men drove to meet who they thought were children and were arrested by police at the meeting spot.
One of those men, Richard S. Kruczynski Jr., who drove from Worcester, received a 90-day jail term. And Harold Spector, a pilot from Peabody, who flew to Marshfield Airport with condoms and Viagra after arranging to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old girl for sex, served a one-year jail term.
But then there was Salvatore Lariccia of Medway, who agreed to meet a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl and then backed out — only to go to North Attleboro, where he was caught by another detective posing online as a child.
Lariccia, former chairman of Medway Tax Facts, was put on probation for five years — even though Plymouth County prosecutors wanted him jailed for 21/2 years. He is scheduled to be tried on the North Attleboro charges Aug. 9.
There was Michael Hennessey of Plymouth, who went to Hanover Mall after chatting online for hours with who he thought was a 13-year-old boy — then went to the Hanover Mall to meet the "child." Hennesssey was given five years probation.
There was Robert DeMarcoi of Brockton, who drove to Marshfield to meet who he thought were two girls, ages 14 and 15, after saying online his fantasy was to have sex with both of them. He was given a 21/2-year suspended sentence, five years probation and has to wear a Global Positioning System tracking device.
Edward Thomas of Malden sent photos of himself naked and cash to who he thought was a 13-year-old girl so she could buy a Webcam to send photos of herself. He was given five years probation and a string of conditions, including keeping away from children.
But Attorney Raipher D. Pellegrino, whose specialty includes computer law, said to expect more people to be caught in online stings — and more going to jail in the future. The law is still catching up to technology and the sentences may be reflecting that, he said.
"It is a learning curve," Pellegrino said. "In most states, the statutes are somewhat antiquated."
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said that even though judges didn't lock up most of the defendants as prosecutors wanted, the men — many with no previous criminal records — are now identified by law enforcement, must register as sex offenders and adhere to a list of restrictions.
"If nothing else, it puts these people on the map," he said. "Now we know where they are. We know where they live. We have a starting point."
McDonald, the sheriff, said that even though most of the men got probation or suspended sentences, everyone so far has pleaded guilty.
"It is interesting that none of them so far went to trial," McDonald said. "When they were arrested, the defense lawyers were screaming entrapment.
"I think the truth has come out about that, based on their pleas," he said. "It clearly is not entrapment."
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.