MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli was arraigned on child pornography charges Thursday afternoon at the federal courthouse in White Plains.
Fanelli, 54, was arrested in his home by agents of Homeland Security Investigations and charged with one count of possession of child pornography. He was released on a $50,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith ordered that he be confined to his home with an electronic monitor.
According to the complaint filed against Fanelli by Homeland Security, he used a Peer-to-Peer file sharing network to download 126 files containing images and video of child pornography between October and January.
Some of the material included children younger than 10 years old, according to the complaint. Investigators were able to track his IP address using investigative software. On three occasions, agents were able to use the network to download child pornography directly from Fanelli's computer.
Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant on Fanelli's home in Mahopac and arrested him Thursday.
After being taken into custody, Fanelli told the arresting agents that he has taught sexual abuse awareness classes to elementary and middle school students for more than a year. According to the complaint, he said that he first began reviewing child pornography as research for his classes, and later for personal interest.
“Given the allegations, this case is particularly disturbing and sad," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "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.”
Fanelli was appointed chief in November. He joined the Mount Pleasant Police Department in 1981, and as a lieutenant he was in charge of monitoring the town's sex offenders.
Fanelli did not enter a plea during his court appearance. He declined to comment on the matter as he left the White Plains courthouse Thursday night. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 19.