In 2008, New York State signed into law the Electronic and Security Targeting of Online Predators Act, also known as E-STOP.
Under E-STOP, if you are a registered sex offender in New York State, you must register any e-mail accounts you set up, or face a Class E felony.
About a month ago, officials at the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Utica received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding a registered sex offender in Oneida County.
Oneida County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Dean Obernesser heads up the CAC and says that tip led to the discovery of that man being in violation of E-STOP.
Obernesser says that discovery led his team to organize a crackdown and look into whether other registered sex offenders living in Oneida County also have any unregistered email accounts.
The sting was dubbed 'Operation ESP', for Operation E-STOP Policing, as in policing the E-STOP violators.
Sheriff Robert Maciol and Obernesser were among a contingent of law enforcement officials from our area who led a press conference Thursday morning to announce 15 people have been arrested under Operation ESP.
The following were arrested, processed at the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and issued appearance tickets for a later appearance in Whitestown Local Criminal Court:
Domingo Pierce, age 21, Taberg
Keith Ward, age 43, Clark Mills
Frederick Buckingham, age 43, Camden
Andrew Potter, age 23, Verona
Francis Antkow, age 36, Bridgewater
Nicholas Kampf, age 28, Deansboro
Jacob Toner, age 32, Clark Mills
Keith Roux, age 46, Rome
Kathy Goralczyk, age 53, Westernville
Timothy Narolis, age 30, Marcy
Troy Janicke, age 40, New York Mills
Blaine Wiggins, age 33, New York Mills - additional charge of Failure to Notify Change of Address
Joseph Ficchi, age 23, Marcy
Michael Ostrander, age 33, Cassville, currently in Oneida County Jail
John Wystozaly, age 35, Bridgewater
The authorities say these arrests may help protect kids from becoming victims, and this announcement may stop other registered sex offenders from not registering.
Maciol says there is good reason to hold such a crackdown,
"Obviously, there have been many cases, not only in New York, but around the country, where people have, through social media, met young children for inappropriate and illegal reasons."
Rome Police Department Detective Commander Timothy Bates, who was involved in the press conference says he hopes this story begins a conversation at home, "I would say all parents and guardians (need) to monitor what the kids are doing, who they are communicating with.
"Operations like this expose exactly what's going on out there, you don't know who you're dealing with."