Officer Carmine Simpson allegedly used social media to send sexually explicit messages to dozens of minors, persuading some of them to send him nude pictures, asking for phone sex and sometimes encouraging self-harm.
He chatted with at least 46 minors via Twitter since last April, prosecutors said, collecting 18 photos and 33 videos of children he instructed to act in a sexually suggestive manner, along with dozens of other images used for sexual arousal.
A judge ordered Simpson jailed without bail pending trial, saying the 26-year-old officer from Long Island was more of a danger to the community than typical child pornography defendants because he allegedly encouraged some of the victims to cut, choke or hit themselves, sometimes with a knife or belt.
"One of the major concerns I have is that this is not a one-off incident here," U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson said. "This series of events went on for months and months. There's a pattern that clearly was established here."
MORE NEWS | New Jersey man explains how newly rescued German shepherd helped save his life during stroke
Because police officers are seen as targets for violence behind bars, Simpson is being held in protective custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the same federal lockup where Jeffrey Epstein's longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell is awaiting trial.
Simpson did not enter a plea to the charge of producing child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if he is convicted.
At an initial court appearance conducted by video because of the coronavirus pandemic, Simpson's lawyer, Todd Greenberg, said he and his client understood the "seriousness of the allegations" and that Simpson would plead not guilty at a later date.
The police department suspended Simpson without pay.
Simpson, the son of a retired officer, joined the NYPD in October 2018 and was assigned to a precinct in eastern Brooklyn. FBI agents searching his Holbrook, Long Island home on Thursday seized his weapons.
Sergeant Edward Riley, a police spokesperson said the allegations against Simpson are "reprehensible" and that the department "has zero tolerance for any officer who would endanger children or betray his oath in such a manner."
In Simpson's criminal complaint, an FBI agent wrote that authorities were alerted in December to Simpson's alleged conduct by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it become aware of a Twitter account with names like "LifeOfChris69" that was being used to target minors.
Simpson often pretended to victims that he was 17 and used a filter to distort photos he shared on Twitter so that he would look younger, the complaint said.
In an example detailed in the complaint, Simpson is accused of messaging a person who appeared to be a 13-year-old girl for several weeks in September, asking her to engage in simulated sex through the FaceTime app and compelling her to send him a short video of herself engaged in a sexual activity.
In another example, Simpson chatted for several months with a person who appeared to be a 15 years old, encouraging her to send him selfie photos after writing explicit words on her body. One of the things Simpson told her to write, according to the criminal complaint, was a phrase starting with his first name, Carmine.
ALSO READ | Be Kind: Long Island coffee shop customers pay it forward with Post-it Notes
In the second case, the FBI Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force and Port Chester Police Department are asking for help in identifying possible victims in a sextortion investigation involving a man from Port Chester.
Investigators arrested Jose Zafra on January 9, 2021 and charged him with production of child sexual abuse material, or what is commonly known as child pornography.
Based on the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, investigators allege Zafra asked for and received sexually explicit photos and videos from a 9-year-old girl in the Panama City, Florida, area.
They also allege Zafra extorted his victims by using flattery, lies and other methods to get them to produce pornography.
Other victims have been identified across the United States, including in Columbus, GA, and Austin, TX. Agents believe there may be many other possible victims.
Zafra used the social media application Snapchat to communicate with most of his victims. His usernames include, but are not limited to: Definitely_jose, Bigdickdaddy, Jose.zafra, Openshit.
Anyone with information on either case is urged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324), or submit a tip online at FBI.gov/tips.
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip