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Mount Pleasant Police Chief Arraigned on Child Porn Charge

Brian Fanelli was arrested at his Mahopac home Thursday morning and posted $50,000 bail in White Plains this afternoon.

Brian Fanelli and his wife leaving federal court in White Plains Thursday, Jan. 23. / Photo credit: Michael Nocella
Brian Fanelli and his wife leaving federal court in White Plains Thursday, Jan. 23. / Photo credit: Michael Nocella

Update, 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23.

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli posted $50,000 bail in federal court in White Plains Thursday afternoon after he was arrested in his Mahopac home at 11:30 a.m. for possession of child pornography, United States Attorney's Office officials said. 

It was there that Fanelli told investigating federal agents his personal collection of child porn originated from researching material for sexual abuse school classes that he was teaching, a 10-page “United States of America v. Brian Fanelli” complaint detailed.

What started out as research soon turned into a recreational habit in which Fanelli used the material for "personal interest," according to the complaint.

Fanelli, 54, of Mahopac, is being charged with one count of possessing child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Fanelli’s trial date has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith presided over Fanelli's initial appearance in the United States District Court Thursday, Jan. 23 and ordered him to "home detention with electronic monitoring." He is only allowed to leave his home for work, meetings and ordeals related to his upcoming trial, medical appointments and religious events. He is also not allowed to be near school grounds, and playgrounds.

Fanelli is additionally prohibited from having firearms, any type of pornography, and using the internet and a cell phone. 

According to the complaint, the defendant was found with multiple pieces of child pornographic images and videos in his home—ranging from electronic images downloaded from the internet to videotapes, books and magazines.

Fanelli was arrested following an investigation from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, which began on Nov. 9, 2013.

“Police officers – and especially police executives – are understandably held to a higher standard of conduct than ordinary citizens,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. said.

“The defendant’s alleged acquisition and viewing of sexually explicit images of children irrevocably breached the trust the public had in him. The widespread exploitation of children in the United States is nothing short of an epidemic that requires the coordinated focus of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the general public alike. HSI is committed to devoting the necessary resources to protect the children in our communities from those intent on victimizing them,” Hayes added.

From at least as early as October 2013, through in or about January 2014, Fanelli used a Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Program (“P2P Network”) to download more than 120 files containing images and videos believed to be child pornography and made those files available to other P2P Network users through his computer’s shared folder on the P2P Network program. Additionally, on three occasions, HSI agents acting in an undercover capacity and using the P2P Network, downloaded images and videos believed to contain child pornography from Fanelli’s computer files, according to the complaint.

After obtaining a search warrant, HSI agents searched Fanelli’s residence Thursday and located three computers. Fanelli voluntarily told the agents that he has taught sexual abuse awareness classes to elementary and middle school-age students for more than one year, and that approximately one year ago, he began viewing child pornography from his home using the P2P Network – at first as research for the classes he was teaching, but shortly thereafter for personal interest, according to the complaint.

The complaint details the graphic nature of the child pornography obtained, which included a video “depicting a female who is approximately 11-13 years old exposing her breasts and vagina to a webcam.”

 “Given the allegations, this case is particularly disturbing and sad,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“A senior law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the law, stands accused of breaking the law. And it is the law designed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable of our population from vile exploitation,” she added.

Mount Pleasant Supervisor Joan Maybury was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon. When reached by phone today, the Mount Pleasant Police Department declined to comment.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Original Post, 2:19 p.m.

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli was arrested Thursday morning with charges of possession of child pornography, according to ABC Eyewitness News.  

Fanelli was arrested in his Mahopac home and is due in Federal Court in White Plains later today, ABC Eyewitness News reported.

Fanelli, a more than 30-year veteran of the department who replaced outgoing Chief Louis Alagno in November, will be prosecuted on the federal level by the Southern District of New York, PIX 11 reported.

Stay with Patch for updates on this story as they become available. 

Patch Editor Sarah Studley contributed to this report.

Clark Westfield January 23, 2014 at 03:09 PM
Great cops up here. First "Coon Hunter", now THIS guy.
PatchRat January 23, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Sick pup. Lock him up away from our kids.
Cameron Kelly January 24, 2014 at 09:14 AM
And still no word on the investigation of Peter Burns and his racist postings. When will we hear the result of that?
bill of rights January 24, 2014 at 04:05 PM
so if the police are watching us, whos watching the police?
Sleepyrules February 02, 2014 at 05:54 PM
They should castrate him!

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