WILKES-BARRE – A Plymouth man faces multiple counts of child pornography after he allegedly had a sexual conversation with someone pretending to be a teenage girl in an online chat.
Luzerne County Detective Charles Balogh received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Dec. 12 regarding an online enticement of children for sexual acts, police said in court papers.
Someone with a screen name man4girl14xxx entered into a sexually explicit conversation with someone masquerading as a 15-year-old girl and suggested using Yahoo Chat to communicate, providing the user name timsantersero, according to the report. Online profiles indicated the suspect lived in Plymouth, police said.
Plymouth Police Chief Myles Collins confirmed for Balogh that Timothy Jon Santersero lives on Cambria Street, Plymouth.
Police interviewed Santersero on Thursday at the Plymouth police station, where they say he admitted to the online conversation and that he had received images of minor girls as young as 8-years-old performing sexual acts. He gave police permission to search his home computer, police said.
Police said Santersero told them: I totally understand I was inappropriate in the conversation and it will not happen again.
A forensic review of Santersero's computer turned up several images of nude minor females and a video of two minor boys engaging in a sexual act, police said.
In a subsequent interview, Santersero told police, I really did screw up in this situation, and added, I know I'm in trouble, police said.
Santersero, 42, was charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility – both third-degree felonies. He was arraigned at Wilkes-Barre police headquarters before District Judge Donald Whittaker, who set his bail at $100,000 cash.
Santersero said that he is married, works full time as a forklift operator and that he has cooperated fully with police in their investigation; he asked the judge to consider releasing him on his own recognizance or lowering his bail.
Whittaker denied the request and said his attorney could make the request for a bail reduction at a preliminary hearing, which Whittaker scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Unable to post bail, Santersero was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.