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Seven arrested for attempting to meet teens for sex in sting operation

Seven arrested for attempting to meet teens for sex in sting operation

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sevensuspects

Seven men were arrested following a sting operation in September in which they allegedly thought they were meeting 14-year-old for sex. Top row, left to right: Nicholas Shepard, Howard Stives Jr. and Nicholas Sabha. Bottom row, left to right: Kevin Piechowicz, Kristopher Smoyer, Richard Zloty and Anthony Aronica. (Courtesy of the Erie County District Attorney's Office)

The seven men thought they were meeting 14-year-olds for sex.

It turned out there were law enforcement officers there waiting for them.

An undercover operation earlier this fall led to the arrests of seven men who tried to arrange sexual encounters with people they thought were 14, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced Tuesday.

In all of the cases, the men contacted their would-be victims via social media apps and arranged to meet them in locations in Cheektowaga and Hamburg.

The most serious case involved Howard Stives, Jr., 47 of Westport in Essex County who is on the New York State Sex Offender Registry as a Level 3 sex offender, the most serious level. Stives was convicted in 1993 for first-degree attempted sodomy involving a 12-year-old boy in Wellsville, according to the registry.

According to the prosecutors, Stives "traveled to a location in the Town of Cheektowaga" at about 8:23 p.m. Sept. 27 "to attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a person whom he believed to be a 14-year-old male." He was arraigned on one count each of second-degree attempted criminal sexual act and first-degree attempted disseminating indecent material to minors, both felonies.

"We obviously want to keep all sexual predators off the street," said Flynn. "But when we have an individual who has a past history of doing this and allegedly continues to engage in this behavior, then obviously, identifying those individuals is even more satisfying for law enforcement."

Here are the other suspects:

Kevin Piechowicz, 37, of Buffalo is accused of traveling to a location in Cheektowaga on Sept. 25 to engage in sexual intercourse with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was also allegedly found in possession of a small amount of cocaine when he was arrested. He was charged with second-degree attempted rape, a felony, and a misdemeanor count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Nicholas Sabha, 29, of Lewiston is accused of traveling to Cheektowaga on Sept. 27 to attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with second-degree attempted rape, second-degree attempted criminal sexual act and first-degree attempted disseminating indecent material to minors, all felonies.

Nicholas Shepard, 25, of Springville is accused of traveling to a location in Cheektowaga on Sept. 27 to attempt to engage in sexual intercourse with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with one count each of second-degree attempted rape and first-degree attempted disseminating indecent material to minors, both felonies, and one misdemeanor count of attempted endangering the welfare of a child.

Richard Zloty, 69, of Orchard Park is accused of traveling to a location in the Town of Hamburg on Sept. 26 to attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with felony counts of second-degree attempted rape and attempted criminal sexual act.

Anthony Aronica, 29, of West Seneca is accused of traveling to a location in the Town of Hamburg on Sept. 26 to engage in sexual intercourse with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with one count of attempted second-degree rape, a felony.

Kristopher Smoyer, 36, of Amherst is accused of traveling to the Town of Hamburg on Sept. 26 in an attempt to engage in sexual intercourse with a person he believed was a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with one count of second-degree attempted rape, both felonies.

Flynn would not give details about how the stings were set up and exactly where the rendezvous were supposed to take place.

But he did say law enforcement used social media to lure the suspects to the locations.

"Law enforcement is constantly using all the tools that are available to get predators off the street," Flynn said. "I can't divulge the techniques. But obviously, in these investigations, there's other evidence that I have going into court. I've got to prove that this person showed up at a location with the intent to have some kind of sex and it was with a minor."

Law enforcement officers with the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, Cheektowaga Police Department, Town of Hamburg Police Department and State Police took part in these investigations. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Bethany A. Solek of the DA’s Special Victims Bureau.

 

 

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