Thursday, January 10, 2008

Matthew S. Persichetti - Randy7 - Federal Charges Child Pornography

A Methuen man who received an award for being a role model when he graduated from Merrimack College two years ago, faces federal charges of possession of child pornography.

Matthew S. Persichetti, 23, of 55 Berwick St. had once volunteered in a Mexican orphanage through a program supported by the campus ministry.

He was arrested yesterday and charged in a criminal complaint with possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Agents said they found several images of child pornography on a laptop computer seized in a search of Persichetti's home last week. Persichetti's arrest stems from an earlier investigation of a Palmer, Alaska, man who had been actively trading child pornography with 241 other computer users over an Internet chat system known as Google Hello. The U.S. Attorney's Office obtained a search warrant after identifying Persichetti as the person using the Google Hello handle "Randy7."

During analysis of the computer, investigators also allegedly discovered a text document that is part of an ongoing investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement New England Field Office.

"The story describes in detail a sexual encounter that 'the author' experienced with an eight year-old orphan while volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico," ICE agent Eric LaForte said in court papers filed yesterday.

"Matthew stated that he had never molested any live children; during the interview, Matthew offered the fact that he had worked at a Mexican Orphanage during a program called 'Alternative Spring Break,' organized by Merrimack College's Campus Ministry," LaForte said.

Persichetti and Andover attorney Robert Lewin, who represents him, both declined comment when contacted last night.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said he was released yesterday on electronic monitoring, with the condition that he be confined to his home for 24 hours a day. Persichetti could receive a maximum prison sentence of 10 years if convicted.

In his affidavit, ICE agent LaForte said "Matthew stated that he has a sexual interest in children aged 10-18" but denied ever having live contact with children.

Court documents allege that Persichetti began chat sessions with the Alaska man last April and continued through November.

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