TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Flemington man who was arrested last year for allegedly distributing child pornography online was arrested again today on charges he repeatedly telephoned an 11-year-old girl and urged her to send him naked photos of herself after playing games with her and chatting on the Internet.
Thomas Pirretti, 31, of Flemington, was arrested today at his home and charged by complaint-warrant with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. He also was charged with a new count of second-degree distribution of child pornography in connection with hundreds of files of child pornography that he allegedly sent and received as email attachments. The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations. They were assisted in the arrest by officers of the Raritan Township Police Department. Pirretti was lodged in the Hunterdon County Jail with bail set at $200,000.
Pirretti allegedly used a Nintendo Gameboy system to chat with the 11-year-old victim while playing a Pokemon game online on the Nintendo Network. Pirretti allegedly obtained the girl’s home phone number in Colorado and began calling her frequently, asking her to be his girlfriend and urging her to send him naked photos of herself. The victim’s father learned of the alleged conduct and filed a complaint with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in December 2014.
Pirretti previously was arrested on July 22, 2014 in Operation Predator Alert, a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations which resulted in arrests of 28 men who allegedly were sharing child pornography online. Pirretti allegedly engaged in an online chat with another defendant in which they discussed their desire for prepubescent girls. Pirretti allegedly asked if he could “date” the other defendant’s 10-year-old daughter. He was charged at that time with second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography.
“This case is a cautionary tale for parents, who need to be aware that their children may encounter sexual predators online in places they would not expect,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Pirretti allegedly used a children’s game and the chat feature offered by this gaming network to try to target this innocent young girl for sexual exploitation. Fortunately, her parents learned of his alleged predatory behavior and alerted law enforcement.”
“This case illustrates what we see time after time, namely that offenders who are sharing child pornography online will also attempt to sexually exploit children through the Internet or sexually assault children to whom they have access,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with ICE Homeland Security Investigations to patrol the Internet for child predators and conduct these major operations targeting child pornography.”
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked ICE Homeland Security Investigations for conducting this investigation in partnership with the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Anand Shah, Lt. Lisa Shea, Sgt. Tom Turley, Detective Abraham Aquino, Detective Rich DaSilva, Lt. Richie King, Sgt. Jared Pyrzanowski and Detective Kahil McGrady, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Michael Monahan, who is Bureau Chief, and Kenneth Sharpe, Deputy Bureau Chief. Acting Attorney General Hoffman also thanked the Raritan Township Police Department, and he thanked the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office for referring the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who suspects improper contact by persons communicating with children on the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.