Massachusetts Men Busted in Rhode Island Sting Accused of Seeking Sex With Minors
Rhode Island State Police arrested 13 men on Sunday following an undercover sting named “Operation Guardian.” Six of the suspects are Massachusetts residents. All are accused of trying to solicit sex with children online.
Over the weekend starting January 24, state police detectives posed as 13- to 15-year-old children on 16 separate social media platforms, created classified advertisements, and communicated with men who then allegedly made plans to meet minors of all genders for sex "at a pre-determined location," according to a press release from Rhode Island State Police.
Those arrested from Massachusetts are Jose Carrion, 41, of Attleboro; Kevin Cooney, 27, of Bellingham; Anthony Gomes, 31, of Brockton; Michael Johnson, 50, of Templeton; James Jolly, 41, of Middleboro; and Paul Kimata, 41, of Brockton.
Those arrested from Rhode Island are David King, 37, of Westerly; Yuhua Kong, 29, of Providence; Stephen Lomastro, 57, of Warwick; Muhammad Malik, 44, of East Greenwich; Emmett Manna, 37, of Providence; Manna Mahuri, 41, of North Kingstown; and Tomy Fitton, 39, of Pawtucket. Fitton is is a convicted sex offender in Massachusetts whose registration requirement expired in July.
All are charged with indecent solicitation of a child. Additionally, five are charged with electronically disseminating indecent material to a minor, and Carrion faces a cocaine possession charge.
Police say the investigation took months of preparation.
Twelve of the men were re-arraigned Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Providence. Their bail conditions included $5,000 personal recognizance or surety, limited internet use, and no unsupervised contact with minors, the statement said. Fitton was re-arraigned Monday and held as a probation violator.
A person found guilty of indecent solicitation of a child faces a mandatory five-year prison sentence. The electronic dissemination of indecent material to a minor charge carries a prison sentence up to five years and a fine up to $5,000.
The operation was conducted by the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The task force includes members of eight police departments across Rhode Island, along with the State Police Computer Crimes Unit and Homeland Security Investigations.