He tried to lure a teenage girl into a tryst, but wound up getting an undercover detective.
A Middle Village man was charged Friday in an online sting for using an AOL chat room to solicit sex from a 14-year-old girl, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.
Though Joseph R. Sylvester, 51, believed to be chatting with a teenager, authorities said, he was interacting with a member of the NYPD Vice Enforcement Major Case Team.
According to the charges, Sylvester first contacted the undercover agent at 10:52 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2015, claiming to be a 50-year-old man. When the detective claimed to be a 14-year-old girl and asked to exchange pictures, authorities said, Sylvester sent a picture of himself to the agent, who then sent Sylvester the photo of an undercover female officer.
Sylvester and the agent continued to exchange messages until after midnight; the messages were sexual in nature, according to Brown. At the end of their chat, the undercover agent provided Sylvester with a cellphone number; the agent received a text from the suspect shortly thereafter.
Prosecutors said Sylvester and the undercover agent engaged in additional explicit instant messages between Nov. 24, 2015, and Jan. 5 of this year.
Following the initial exchange, authorities noted, Sylvester asked to meet with the teenager; he was arrested on Jan. 5 upon arriving at an undisclosed, pre-arranged location in Queens County. He was charged with second-degree attempted rape, criminal sexual act, attempting to disseminate indecent material to minors and attempted child endangerment and faces up to four years behind bars — and be required to register as a sex offender — if convicted.
“This case underscores the crucial importance of Internet surveillance initiative by law enforcement to protect children from sexual predators and should serve as a warning to parents to closely monitor their children’s Internet access and activities,” Brown said. “Despite numerous publicized arrests for exactly this type of alleged behavior, sexual predators continue to be relentless in searching the Internet for victims. Do not let your child become one of them.”
In statements made to police, Sylvester allegedly admitted to exchanging instant messages with underage girls prior to his arrest, using the email armystrongny[at]aol.com. Any parent who knows that their child engaged in online chats with the person at that email address should call the Queens District Attorney’s office at 718-286-6590.