St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Detective Neil Spector receives U.S. Dept. of Justice Child Protection Award, Sheriff Mascara announces
Veteran St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Detective Neil Spector is being honored in Washington, D.C., this week as the recipient of the 2009 Child Protection Award from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
“Detective Spector earned this award for his work in February 2008 on the case of Ashland, Mass., resident Lonnie Waite, who is now serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for abusing children and related crimes,” Sheriff Mascara said. “The people of St. Lucie County have every reason to be proud of Detective Spector’s work to protect children from Internet-based sexual predators.”
Detective Spector, 44, a 21-year member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, will receive his award Thursday in a ceremony honoring 2009 National Missing Children’s Day Award winners.
Nominating Detective Spector for the award was Lt. Robert Cates of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He is the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Commander. The task force is one of 59 such task forces combatting internet-based sexual exploitation of children.
This release includes:
- A detailed description of the case for which Detective Spector was nominated, from the nonination form submitted by Lt. Cates.
- A description of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program.
The web site of the the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is:
The web address of the ICAC Task Force program is:
Here is Lt. Cates’ description of Detective Spector’s investigation of Lonnie Waite for which Detective Spector received this year’s Child Protection Award:
Detective Spector has been at the forefront of “on line” investigations into child sexual exploitation for several years. At the end of 2008, Detective Spector had conducted numerous investigations that had led to the apprehension of over two hundred “on-line” investigations. Detective Spector conducts these investigations in addition to his regular case load as a criminal investigator in the most demanding area of the Sheriff’s Office.
In February of 2008, Detective Spector was in an America Online chat room portraying an adult male persona with children. During one of his Internet chats, he met an individual later identified as Lonnie Waite from Ashland, Massachusetts. During the initial internet chat, Waite discussed being interested in sexually abusing children, in particular his daughter. The internet chat progressed to a phone conversation; where again Waite indicated his desire to have sex with a child.
The communications continued over a 30-day period, where Detective Spector and Waite would communicate via electronically or by telephone. During one of the communications, Waite provided Detective Spector his teenage daughter’s cell phone number to confirm that he really had a daughter. During the course of this investigation, Waite told Detective Spector several things that confirmed Waite’s identity and his activities. Detective Spector was always able to confirm what Waite had told him.
On March 13th 2008, Waite confided in Detective Spector that he recently met another father on the internet from New Hampshire. Waite told Detective Spector that this “father” allowed Waite to engage in sexual activity with his four year old daughter. Waite also confided in Detective Spector that he obtained videos of the New Hampshire suspect having engaged in various sex acts with the child.
On the evening of March 13, 2008, Waite sent several of the videos via electronic mail to Detective Spector’s undercover account. Waite further showed other videos that Waite had on his computer via a web camera. These videos depicted a child clearly under the age of twelve being sexually abused.
Based on the undercover investigation that Detective Spector conducted and that Waite “confided” in Detective Spector’s undercover persona, Detective Spector felt there was a child victim still being actively molested.
Detective Spector was able to confirm Waite was transmitted the child pornography images from his residence and confirmed Waite’s identity.
Detective Spector contacted Internet Crimes Against Children Investigator Matt Murphy of the Massachusetts State Police for assistance. Detective Spector sent Investigator Murphy an outlined report of his investigation.
Within days, Investigator Murphy obtained a search warrant for Waite’s residence. Detective Spector had obtained Florida arrests warrants for Waite.
Detective Spector conducted another online undercover with Waite to confirm he was at the residence. The search warrant was served and Waite was placed into custody. Waite provided Investigator Murphy the New Hampshire’s suspect’s screen name. Investigator Murphy provided that information to Detective Spector, which was after normal business hours. Detective Spector contacted America Online and they were able to provide the suspect’s name and address.
That same evening the New Hampshire State Police were notified of the investigation. Surveillance was conducted in the early hours the following day. It was confirmed through surveillance that Dominic Pace of New Hampshire and a four year old child living in the residence were the same individuals in the videos Waite sent to Detective Spector. A search warrant was served that evening and the four year old child was rescued. Dominic Pace confessed to sexually abusing this child.
Detective Spector obtained federal arrest warrants for Waite in the Southern District of Florida. Waite has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twenty years in Federal prison, followed by life time probation. Dominic Pace had also pleaded guilty on federal charges in New Hampshire and was sentenced to forty years in Federal prison, followed by life probation.
If it wasn’t for Detective Spector’s investigation this child’s abuse would have continued. The assistance of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire State Police shows how law enforcement can work together to accomplish this mission, saving a child from being sexually abused.
- End of award nomination excerpt -
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force provides agencies with the ability to conduct proactive investigations of internet crimes involving children. Sometimes, perpetrators are arrested before they have victimized a real child.
The task force also provides valuable training and resources to conduct thorough investigations of reported crimes involving children as well. The task force investigates persons using the internet to attempt to engage in sexual contact with underage children, persons who send children web camera feeds of, or files displaying sexual acts, persons who download or distribute child pornography files using email or file-sharing networks.
According to the web site of the Officeof Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, here is a description of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program:
The ICAC Task Force program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This help encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, and community education.
The program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims. The FY 1998 Justice Appropriations Act (Pub, L. No. 105–119) directed OJJDP to create a national network of state and local law enforcement cyber units to investigate cases of child sexual exploitation.
The ICAC program is a national network of 59 coordinated task forces representing over 2,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in proactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. By helping state and local agencies to develop effective, sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, OJJDP has increased their capacity to address Internet crimes against children.
• Since the ICAC program's inception in 1998, nearly 100,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained in the United States and in 17 countries on techniques to investigative and prosecute ICAC related cases.
• Since 1998, ICAC Task Forces have reviewed more than 100,000 complaints of alleged child sexual victimization resulting in the arrest of more than 13,500 individuals.
• In FY 2007, the ICAC program trained over 20,000 law enforcement personnel and nearly 1,700 prosecutors. In fiscal year 2008, the number of trained law enforcement personnel increased to over 26,500, while an additional 2,219 prosecutors were trained.
• In FY 2007, ICAC investigations led to more than 10,500 forensic examinations, the identification of nearly 400 children who were victims of some form of abuse and neglect, and 2,400 arrests.
• And in FY 2008, ICAC task forces have resulted in the arrest of more than 3,000 individuals, with over one-third of those arrests (1,109) resulting in the acceptance of a plea agreement by the defendant.
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