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FEDS: WNY Child exploitation arrest, guilty plea, and upcoming training to combat trafficking

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A Rochester man faces 30 years, a Lancaster NY victim sees justice served

From the United States Attorney’s Office

ROCHESTER MAN CHARGED WITH PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY INVOLVING 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Nicholas Laffin, 28, of Rochester, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with production and possession of child pornography. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on December 27, 2023, the Albion Police Department received a report that a man was found in the bedroom of a 13-year-old girl (Minor Victim), together with the Minor Victim. The man fled the area but left a cell phone in bedroom. The Minor Victim told police that she met the man at the Hoag Library in Albion, and believed him to be approximately 20 years old. A few days later, on December 31, 2023, Laffin was located in Albion near the Minor Victim’s residence and advised Albion Police that his cell phone had been stolen on December 26, 2023, in Albion, NY. Laffin was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child. On January 3, 2024, seven items of digital evidence were turned over to the FBI. An initial review of Laffin’s cell phone located in the Minor Victim’s bedroom recovered multiple images and video files of child pornography involving the Minor Victim.

The complaint is a result of an investigation by the Albion Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Mogle, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia, and the Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Stauffiger.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

MISSOURI MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO RECEIVING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Andrew Neal, 22, of Columbia, Missouri, who was convicted of receipt of child pornography, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, who handled the case, stated that between July 2018, and November 5, 2020, Neal received and attempted to receive sexually explicit images from three minor victims located in Lancaster, NY, San Francisco, California and Springfield, Missouri. Neal contacted the victims through Instagram and requested the sexually explicit images. If the victims did not comply, Neal threatened to share images previously sent by the victims with their Instagram followers. The victims initially complied but once they stopped, Neal did in fact share images with some of their Instagram followers.  

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino. 

WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK HUMAN TRAFFICKING TASK FORCE ANNOUNCES SERIES OF TRAININGS

BUFFALO, N.Y. – January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about all forms of trafficking, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking. U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force is kicking off a series of training conferences to educate members of law enforcement, the legal community, and non-government organizations that provide services to victims and survivors of human trafficking.

The first training conference is scheduled for tomorrow, January 10, 2024, from 9:00 am-12:30 pm at Jamestown Community College, Hultquist Library Building Lenna Theater, 525 Falconer Street, Jamestown, NY, 14701.

The conference will cover a victim-centered approach to identifying, investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases and responding to trafficking victims and survivors. Presentations will include sex trafficking, labor trafficking, domestic violence and child trafficking, and services and resources that are available for victims and survivors. Additional conferences will be held in the coming weeks and months throughout the Western District of New York.

According to a proclamation from President Biden declaring January 2024 as Human Trafficking Prevention month, more than 27 million people around the world endure the abuse of human trafficking and forced labor, including thousands of people right here in the United States. For more information on sex and labor trafficking, including services and resources, go to: https://ovc.ojp.gov/program/human-trafficking/overview.

The Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Erie County Sheriff’s Office, and International Institute of Buffalo, brings together law enforcement and social and legal service agencies to collaborate on human trafficking cases. The Western District of New York includes the 17 counties: Allegany; Cattaraugus; Chautauqua; Chemung; Erie; Genesee; Livingston; Monroe; Niagara; Ontario; Orleans; Schuyler; Seneca; Steuben; Wayne; Wyoming; and Yates.

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