Friday, March 28, 2014
Federal Judge Allows Computer in Home of Chief Brian Fanelli Charged with Having Child Porn
Federal agents arrested Fanelli, 54, at his Mahopac home in January and seized computers they alleged contained more than 120 files of children as young as 7 engaged in sexual acts.
A lawyer for Fanelli, who is free on $50,000 bond but confined to his home and barred from using computers and cellphones, wrote to U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith earlier this month, asking that Fanelli's wife be allowed to buy a laptop computer to use at home for "bill payments and work-related emails." Her computer was among those confiscated. It contained nothing illegal, authorities said.
In his March 10 request, defense attorney Michael K. Burke says that Sonja Fanelli "understands that the laptop must be password protected and kept in a locked and secured area when not in use." Burke said his client understands he cannot use the computer and that his wife cannot share her password.
Smith approved the request after an assistant U.S. attorney and a pre-trial services officer had no objections.
Brian Fanelli's next court date is April 16 in White Plains. He is charged with possessing child pornography and could face up to 10 years in prison.
Authorities say Brian Fanelli, the father of two grown children, downloaded and viewed illegal images and videos between October and January. He was promoted to chief in November, the culmination of a 31-year career in Mount Pleasant. He was arrested Jan. 23 and was suspended with pay from his $135,518-a-year job.
He told federal investigators he first viewed the images for research for school classes he taught on the dangers of sexual abuse, then it became a habit.
Paul Oliva is serving as Mount Pleasant's acting chief.