AG Announces Multiple Child Predator Arrests Across State

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that over the past week agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit have arrested six Internet predators in suburban Philadelphia, the Allentown area and central Pennsylvania.
Corbett identified the defendants as:

– William Edward Algeo, 47, Havertown, Delaware County.
– Michael Lee McBeth, 35, Shippensburg.
– William J. Easterday, 53, Easton.
– John William Sell, 46, Allentown.
– Michael David Gates, 40, Lehigh County.
– Charles Joseph Lamberton, 20, Northampton, Northampton County.

Corbett said that Algeo, McBeth, Gates and Lamberton are accused of using Internet chat rooms to sexually proposition what they believed were 12, 13 and 14-year old girls, as well as sending sexually graphic photos or videos to the girls, while Easterday and Sell are charged with possession of illegal child pornography.

Corbett noted that the Child Predator Unit has arrested 143 Internet predators since it was created in January 2005.

William Edward Algeo
Corbett said that Algeo allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach and sexually proposition what he believed was a 13-year old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover agent using the online profile of a child.

According to the criminal complaint, Algeo asked the girl if she ever arranged to meet people who contacted her online, adding, “are you looking to be naughty?” Algeo allegedly expressed a desire to meet the girl for sex and sent the girl a webcam video that showed two adults engaging in sexual activity.

Corbett said that Algeo was arrested at his home in Havertown on Monday, May 5, after allegedly making numerous attempts to meet the girl for sex. Agents from the Child Predator Unit were assisted by the Havertown Township Police Department.

Algeo is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. He is also charged with three counts of unlawful contact with a minor (obscene or sexual performances) and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Algeo was preliminarily arraigned on May 5 before Magisterial District Judge John Capuzzi and lodged in the Delaware County Prison in lieu of $40,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15, at 8:30 a.m., before Havertown Magisterial District Judge Robert Burke.

Michael Lee McBeth
Corbett said that McBeth, a crane mechanic from Shippensburg, allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach an undercover agent who was using the online profile of a 12-year old girl. Almost immediately, McBeth allegedly asked the girl, “would you let a guy see you nude?”

According to the criminal complaint, McBeth sent the girl a photograph of an exposed penis and engaged in a sexually graphic discussion, instructing her to masturbate and detailing the sex acts he was interested in.

McBeth was arrested at his home on Tuesday, May 6, by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by Pennsylvania State Police from the Chambersburg Barracks.

McBeth is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor and one count of criminal use of a computer, both third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

McBeth was preliminarily arraigned on May 6 before Scotland Magisterial District Judge Todd Williams and lodged in the Franklin County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 13, at 9 a.m., before Magisterial District Judge Williams.

Corbett noted that at the time of his arrest by the Child Predator Unit, McBeth was on supervised sex offender probation in Cumberland County related to a 2006 case involving charges of the corruption of minors.

John William Sell
Sell was initially arrested by the Child Predator Unit on Feb. 25, on charges that he sent sexually graphic webcam videos to what he believed was a 14-year old girl.

Corbett said that a computer seized from Sell’s home was analyzed by the Attorney General’s Computer Forensics Unit, resulting in the identification of several images of suspected illegal child pornography. One photograph and ten videos depicting children under the age of 18 either nude or engaging in sexually activity were allegedly located on Sell’s computer.

In addition to the previous criminal charges, Sell is now charged with 11 counts of sexual abuse of children, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Sell surrendered on May 7 in Lehigh County, and was preliminarily arraigned before Allentown Magisterial District Judge Anthony Rapp Jr. and released on $25,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15, at 2 p.m., before Magisterial District Judge Rapp.

William J. Easterday
Corbett said that Easterday is accused of using a teen chat room to sexually proposition what he believed was a 14-year old girl, along with possession of illegal child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, Easterday, using the screen name “DirtyOlderMan,” used a teen chat room to contact an undercover agent who was using the online profile of a 14-year old girl. Easterday allegedly sent the girl a series of sexually explicit pictures, telling her, “I can go to jail for sending u pics like that.”

Easterday was arrested at his home on May 7 by agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit, assisted by the Fork Township Police Department. The Palmer Township Police Department also assisted with this investigation.

Easterday is charged with five counts of unlawful contact with a minor, four counts of sexual abuse of children and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Easterday was preliminarily arraigned before Easton Magisterial District Judge Ralph W. Litzenberger and lodged in the Northampton County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15, at 9 a.m., before Magisterial District Judge Litzenberger.

Michael David Gates
Corbett said that Gates is accused of using an Internet chat room intended for pre-teens to approach what he believed was a 14-year old girl – initially identifying himself as and 18-year old boy.

According to the criminal complaint, Gates sent the girl a nude webcam video within minutes of their initial contact and expressed a desire to meet the girl for sex. Gates also allegedly asked the girl to describe her underwear and instructed her to masturbate.

Gates was arrested on May 8 by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by Pennsylvania State Police from the Bethlehem Barracks.

Gates is charged with one count of unlawful contact with a minor and one count of criminal use of a computer, both third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Gates was preliminarily arraigned today by video from the Lehigh County Prison and held on $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled in Lehigh County.

Charles Joseph Lamberton
Corbett said that Lamberton allegedly used an Internet chat room to approach what he believed was a 12-year old girl, asking her if she liked “older guys” and telling her, “I love younger girls.”

According to the criminal complaint, Lamberton sent the girl a webcam video that showed him masturbating in front of his computer. Lamberton also allegedly proposed a meeting for sex, telling the girl, “If I was with you I’d show you how to do a lot of fun sexual things, hottie.”

Lamberton was arrested on May 8 by agents from the Child Predator Unit, assisted by Pennsylvania State Police from the Bethlehem Barracks.

Lamberton is charged with two counts of unlawful contact with a minor and one count of criminal use of a computer, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Lamberton was preliminarily arraigned today by video from the Northampton County Prison and held in lieu of $25,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 14th, at 9 a.m., before Nazareth Magisterial District Judge John Capobianco.

Summer Danger – “Operation Summer Surf”
Earlier last week, Corbett was joined by representatives from the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals, to launch “Operation Summer Surf” – reminding parents and teens across Pennsylvania to regularly discuss online safety and remain vigilant this summer.

Corbett said that that there was a notable increase in the number of Internet predators arrested by the Attorney General’s Office last summer – a total of 17 arrests between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2007, including men who traveled from as far away as Kentucky in order to have sexual contact with children. Corbett said the number of arrests in the summer of 2007 was nearly double the number of arrests from the previous summer.

Corbett added that undercover agents have reported an increase in the number of Internet predators questioning children about their summer vacation plans, or asking them about times where they may be home alone, as part of discussions about meeting the children or sending them sexually graphic videos.

Operation Summer Surf is an expansion of the Attorney General’s popular “Operation Safe Surf” Internet safety education program, which was created in October 2006 and has now reached nearly 140,000 children and adults from across the state.

Corbett said that today’s teens have grown up with the Internet and have never known a world without it, making “surfing” a part of their life that they often take for granted. Operation Summer Surf emphasizes that the same rules of Internet safety apply not just to September through June, but throughout the summer months as well.

“Predators will always be drawn to locations that give them the greatest access to the largest number of potential victims,” Corbett said. “Today, they stalk a variety of online sites, including chat rooms; social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook; Internet message boards; video game sites; and even online classified ads on Craigslist.com.”

Corbett noted that the techniques used by Internet predators change rapidly, spurred by developments in communication technology and changes in where and how children communicate online. He added that predators will communicate with children in many different ways, using public or private online chat rooms, instant message programs, text messages, email, cell phones and webcams.

“It is essential for parents to understand how quickly online conversations can progress from initial contact to sexually explicit content,” Corbett said. “Often, predators will begin a sexually graphic discussion within minutes of contacting a child, and many suspects transmit nude photos or explicit videos during their first online meeting.”

Corbett encouraged parents to discuss Internet safety with their children, including the danger of meeting strangers who approach them online. He also advised that parents ask their children to show them what they are doing online, setting ground rules for summer online communication to help kids use the Internet safely and in a responsible manner.

Operation Safe Surf and Operation Summer surf materials are provided free-of-charge to schools and community groups. Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations, contact the Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Office at 1-800-525-7642 or via email at education@attorneygeneral.gov.

Suspected internet predators can be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by calling the toll-free Child Predator Hotline, at 1-800-385-1044, or filing an online complaint using the Attorney General’s Web site. (Click on the “Report an Internet Predator” link, located on the front page of the website)

Internet safety tips and other information for parents, children and teachers are available in the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just for Kids” sections of the Attorney General’s Web site. (Click on the “Kids, Parents & Schools” link at the top of the front page)

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