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Teacher arrested one month prior to child porn roundup Man 'may have been involved' in molestation

Customs officials said they were forced to arrest a Genesee County religious education teacher on child pornography charges a month before Wednesday's international crackdown on Internet child porn sites.

Felony charges against 27 people alleged to traffic in pornographic images of children were announced Wednesday in Chicago by U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Authorities said some of the defendants are accused of transmitting streaming video images of live molestations of children, one younger than 18 months.

While authorities began rounding up suspects in recent days, officials here were forced to act in early February against another accused member of the group, David Perozzi, 51, of Broadway Road in Oakfield.

"Allegations were made that he may have been involved in child molestations," Peter J. Smith, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said of Perozzi. "We have not been able to verify that as of this date."

But he said that because others involved in the Web site, "Kiddypics & Kiddyvids," are accused of molestation, officials had to act immediately and arrest Perozzi on Feb. 9.

The early arrests before Wednesday's announcement of the investigation, Smith said, were made "because they were requesting photos of [molestation] and they may have insinuated they had participated."

"We had to take action," he said. "It's like yelling fire in a theater."

Perozzi, a Sunday school teacher at an Episcopal church, was released on $25,000 cash bail following a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott. His next court appearance is May 10.

Customs officials in Chicago said the investigation, which began in Alberta, Canada, led to arrests there and in Australia, Great Britain and Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Lisa A. Winebrenner, 36, of Osceola, Iowa, is accused of running the chat room after an earlier administrator was arrested March 6. Customs agents infiltrated the chat room, authorities said.

"The behavior in these chat rooms and the images many of these defendants sent around the world through peer-to-peer sharing programs and private instant messaging services are the worst imaginable forms of child pornography," Gonzales said.

If found guilty of the child pornography charges, the defendants could face federal prison terms ranging from five years for conspiracy as well as 10 years for possessing, 20 years for distributing and receiving and 30 years for manufacturing the illicit images.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-mail: mbeebe@buffnews.com

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