WILKES-BARRE – A Plymouth man faces multiple counts of child pornography charges 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.
According to the report, 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.” Online profiles indicated the suspect lived in Plymouth, police said.
Plymouth Police Chief Myles Collins confirmed for Balogh that Timothy Jon Santersero resides at 17 Cambria St., Plymouth.
Police on Thursday interviewed Santersero at the Plymouth police station, where 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 that had been downloaded since June 14, 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 at Sid Harvey Industries in Hanover Estates, Hanover Township, 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 his preliminary hearing, which Whittaker scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Unable to post bail, Santersero was jailed at Luzerne County Correctional Facility.