FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A Fairfield man was among several adults arrested after reality TV show producers lured him to a Fairfield residence to meet a minor for sex during production of a new version of "To Catch A Predator," police said.
Charles E. Lawrence, 8 Pleszko Place, Fairfield, was charged with risk of injury to a minor, second-degree criminal attempt of sexual assault, and enticing a minor, police said.
Lawrence was one of several adults who engaged in sexually explicit conversations online with reality show staffers who were posing as minors, police said.
The staff then invited Lawrence and the other adults to a Fairfield residence between last Thursday and Sunday, luring them there on a pretense of meeting the minor.
Unbeknownst to them, the house was actually the set of “Hansen vs. Predator,” a Kickstarter-funded American reality television show featuring Chris Hansen of Stamford, who previously hosted “To Catch a Predator” on MSNBC and on "Dateline NBC."
While most the men arrested were not from Fairfield County, a Bridgeport resident was also arrested in the bust.
Jesse Velez, 3142 Fairfield Ave. was charged with risk of injury to a minor, second-degree criminal attempt of sexual assault and enticing a minor.
Police said the show's producers contacted them before filming and gave them an option to participate.
In the interest of public safety, Fairfield police Lt. James Perez said detectives and officers tracked the suspects the entire time each was in Fairfield.
“We had eyes on them the whole time,” Perez said. “From the moment they got off the exit ramp to the moment they got to the house, we were on them.”
Officers did not enter the set, Perez said, but they arrested the suspects as they left the house.
Staff from “Hansen vs. Predator” pose as underage minors on Internet chat rooms and social media platforms, police said.
During the conversations, staff collect incriminating information. They arrange in-person meetings at a predetermined location outfitted with hidden cameras, microphones and law enforcement at the ready.
The location of last week’s bust was a Fairfield residence but the exact address was not released.
Police said the homeowner had made a private deal with the producers to host the show.
“As a result of our investigation, we were able to remove several dangerous individuals from the streets who were attempting to have contact with children,” Perez said.
Michael Manzi, Haviland Street, Harrison, N.Y.; Jeffrey B Sokol, Beacon Street, Brookline, Mass.; Vincent Milan Ambrosio, Swenson Drive, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.; and Joshua R. Colon, 67th Street, Glendale, N.Y.; John M. Dupee, Dover Street, Norwalk; Stephen P. Buchanan, Belair Terrace, Stratford David N. Tiriolo; East Village Road, Shelton and Michael G. Gentile, Shawe Valley Lane, Brewster, N.Y. were also arrested in the sting, police said.
Bond information was not available for any of the individuals, police said.
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