TRENTON, N.J. — A man from Georgia living in Long Island, N.Y., was arrested Monday for traveling from New York to New Jersey to have sexual contact with a minor and for distributing child pornography. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the West Long Branch Police Department assisted in the investigation.
Beginning in July 2013, an undercover HSI special agent began communicating via the Internet with Richard J. Simone, 23, of Acworth, Ga. Over the course of July, August and September, Simone and the undercover agent engaged in numerous, graphic communications regarding Simone having sex with the undercover agent's fictitious 9-year-old daughter and fictitious minor baby sitter. During an online conversation in August, Simone sent nine images of child pornography to the undercover agent. On Sept. 13, Simone traveled from Long Island to Monmouth County for the purpose of having sex with the undercover agent's fictitious daughter and baby sitter. Simone was arrested upon his arrival in Monmouth County.
Simone faces up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for traveling to have sexual contact with a minor. He faces between five and 20 years and a $250,000 fine for distributing child pornography.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.