Former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli pleads guilty to child porn charges

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. (WABC) -- A former Westchester County police chief pleaded guilty Monday to child pornography charges.

The U.S. Attorney's office said Brian Fanelli, 56, of Mahopac in Putnam County, entered a guilty plea to one county of possession of child pornography. Fanelli was formerly the police chief of Mount Pleasant.

Fanelli was arrested in January 2014. Police said he used peer-to-peer file sharing on his computer to download more than 120 images and video believed to be child pornography. Those files were then made available to other users to download, and on three occasions, agents with the Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations were able to download those files while working undercover.

Shortly after his arrest, Fanelli admitted to investigators that he initially viewed the pornography as research for the sexual abuse awareness classes he taught to elementary and middle school students. But he acknowledged that his research ultimately became his personal interest.

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"By his guilty plea to downloading and possessing child pornography, Brian Fanelli, a former police chief who swore to protect and serve, admitted to a crime that victimizes and exploits some of the most vulnerable in our community," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a news release.

When sentenced, Fanelli faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
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