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West Pittston man pleads guilty to child porn charges


October 30. 2013 11:48PM

By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com






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WILKES-BARRE — A West Pittston man who praised police when they arrested him for downloading child pornography earlier this year has admitted to his crimes in Luzerne County Court.


Ralph N. Costanzo, 55, pleaded guilty Wednesday before Judge Lesa Gelb to felony charges of possession of child pornography and dissemination of images of children engaged in sex acts.


Costanzo was arrested in May on allegations that he used a smartphone to download child pornography in March. Investigators said they found several images on Costanzo’s device.


When Luzerne County Detective Charles Balogh went to Costanzo’s home, the defendant initially denied he had a smartphone. But Costanzo later recanted, according to an affidavit, admitting to Balogh he used the phone to search for images of young boys.


“You did me good; I needed this,” Costanzo said to Balogh, according to the affidavit. “This is an addiction and I’m glad it’s over before it escalated.”


Balogh received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an individual uploading images of underage males engaged in sexual activity from an email account, which was later determined to belong to Costanzo.


Under his plea, Costanzo will have to register as an offender with state police for the rest of his life, and will be subject to an evaluation by the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.


Other terms imposed on Costanzo include:


• He may not have unsupervised contact with minors.


• He is not to be around schools, school zones, public parks, playgrounds, pools or libraries.


• He is prohibited from having Internet access.


• He must attend and complete sexual offender treatment.


Sentencing has been set for 9 a.m. Jan. 31.




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