A 43-year-old volunteer youth coach sent an inappropriate text message to a former player. That player shared it with a teammate. That teammate “phished” the coach, creating a fake social media profile, and he pursued an online relationship that ultimately led the man to Erie County Court Tuesday.
Francesco Maccarrone, 43, of Buffalo, admitted to sending sexually explicit messages to a 13-year-old female from Buffalo during a three-week period in December 2018. Maccarrone, who had been a volunteer coach with the YMCA in Orchard Park, pleaded guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns to the highest possible charge: a felony count of first-degree disseminating indecent material to minors.
“When it involves a minor and an individual who has some type of supervisory role or connection to that minor, I find that despicable," said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. "And those are the cases, where you’ve got two choices: You either plead to the highest charge, or go to trial."
At the time of the incident, Maccarrone coached girls basketball and soccer.
He faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced May 30. He will be required to register with the New York State Sex Offender Registry.
Flynn said this situation began with Maccarrone "inappropriately texting a 16-year-old girl who he had coached" who had moved out of state. According to Flynn, the girl told a girl in Buffalo, who was on the team coached by Maccarrone, about Maccarrone's text. Flynn said that the teammate in Buffalo, who was 13 at the time, created a fake social media profile and began communicating with Maccarrone, a process known as "catfishing" or "phishing."
"She phished," Flynn said, "and he bit."
The victim, who was 13 at the time, originally told Maccarrone she was 16; later she told him he was 14 and he continued to interact with her. Their communications began on Dec. 2, 2018.
"As the texting went on further, she told him, 'Hey, by the way, I lied to you; I’m only 14. does that matter?' " Flynn said, paraphrasing. “And he said no. And he continued sexting her.”
Later, Maccarrone and the girl arranged to meet, although the meeting never occurred. Flynn said the fact that Maccarrone knew the victim was underage, and that they agreed to meet, made Maccarrone's conduct a first-degree charge and a Class D felony crime.
Flynn said the girl told a family member on Christmas Day 2018 "about this whole thing, and that's how it came to light."
Flynn said that the victim never sent any photographs of any kind to Maccarrone, that it was "just communication" through the fake account. Any photos that Maccarrone sent to the victim were not explicit in nature, Flynn said.
Maccarrone, who originally was charged with an additional count of endangering the welfare of a child, was also a volunteer coach with the Police Athletic League and the "X Gen Elite" youth league and had previously coached at Nardin Academy, according to Flynn.
Flynn said that Maccarrone is facing a sentence between probation and seven years in prison.
Buffalo’s Francesco Maccarrone, 43, who volunteered as a youth basketball coach at the YMCA in Orchard Park, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to disseminating indecent materials to a child. He faces up to seven years in prison; sentencing is May 30. @DAErieCountyNY John J. Flynn: pic.twitter.com/ZvweuQa6uU
— Keith McShea (@ByKeithMcShea) March 5, 2019