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14-197 Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri And Polk Sheriff Grady Judd Announce Results Of Florida Sheriff’s Task Force “Operation Cyber Vigilance”

Who:
Host Agencies:
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Office
Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office
Volusia County Sheriff’s Office
Lee County Sheriff’s Office
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office

Contributing Agencies:
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office
Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office
Orange County Sheriff’s Office
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office
St. John County Sheriff’s Office
Clay County Sheriff’s Office
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

What:
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd have announced the results of “Operation Cyber Vigilance,” the Florida Sheriff’s Task Force Spring/Summer operation which sought out individuals who chat with “minors” on line for the purpose of meeting them and engaging them in sexual activity. The joint initiative netted 132 arrests and 282 arrest charges.

The Florida Sheriffs Task Force decided in 2013 to emphasize and highlight these inter-agency investigations in 2014 to help protect Florida’s children from on line predators and exploitation, and to bring public awareness to Internet and social network safety for children. A total of 9 sheriff’s offices hosted operations, 8 others contributed personnel and resources to the operation.

When:
The operations were held by the above listed host agencies beginning March 19, 2014 through July 20, 2014. (The attachment provides a timeline with the dates each agency held their operation).

Where:
Nine County Sheriff’s Offices hosted and 8 contributed to the operations under the umbrella of “Operation Cyber Vigilance.”
The news conference was held at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Operation Center located at 1891 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven.

Why/How:
In a joint news conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Florida Sheriff’s Task Force Chairman and Sheriff Grady Judd, President, Florida Sheriffs Association announced the results of Operation Cyber Vigilance, which targeted individuals who use a computer or other electronic device to meet and engage children in sex.

Over the four month period the agencies combined arrested a total of 132 suspects on 282 arrest charges. The suspects were arrested on a variety of charges, the most common ones being Traveling to Meet a Minor and Using an On-Line Service to Lure/Entice a Minor. Other charges included narcotics related offenses, active fugitive warrants and resisting arrest.

The arrested suspects ranged in ages from their 20s through 70s; and came from various walks of life to include postal worker, pizza deliveryman, landscaper, a former law enforcement officer and a Disney employee.

Notable Arrests:

Bela Sziklassy
DOB: 07/18/1943
Address: Pinellas County
Arrested for Traveling To Meet a “12-year-old”; and Possession of Child Pornography
Investigators say he told investigators his sexual interest was juveniles “diapers to 11 years old.”

Christopher Thomas Stephens
DOB: 07/10/1982
Address: Pinellas County
Arrested for Traveling to Meet a “14-year old”; and 5-counts Possession of Child Pornography
Planned to bring his victim to the condo where he worked where they could be alone and undisturbed.

Allen Treaster
DOB: 04/23/1974
Address: Polk County
Arrested for Use 2-Way Communication Device to Commit Felony; Use of Computer to Lure/Entice a Minor; Travel to Meet a Minor; Lewd and Lascivious Conduct by Person over 18 YOA; and Transmission Of Materials Harmful to a Minor
A Disney Animal Kingdom employee told investigators he fantasized about having sex with a 14 year-old boy and that this was not the first time he travelled to have sex with an underage boy.

“In this day and age of technology our children are the most vulnerable. Online predators are a top public safety issue across the state. We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to utilize every law enforcement resource we have at our disposal to protect our kids from these individuals,” said Sheriff Gualtieri.

“Florida’s Sheriffs are committed to conducting these investigations to protect our children from sexual predators. We are passionate about preventing child exploitation and holding those who prey on children accountable,” said Sheriff Judd.

The investigation continues.

Investigators say awareness is the key. Parents are encouraged to learn to use parental monitoring software for computers and smartphones (list of Sheriff’s Offices that provide the software to residents is attached); to become familiar and learn to utilize social media; to speak to their kids about the dangers of the internet and discuss when there is media coverage of the issue. Investigators ask the public to report online exploitation of children to their local law enforcement.

 

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