A Hoodsport man was among those arrested in a Jefferson County “Net Nanny” operation. According the a news release from the Washington State Patrol, ten dangerous sexual predators that targeted children in Jefferson County were taken off the streets thanks to a multi-day operation run by law enforcement, county prosecutors, and victim advocate specialists. Additionally, seven children were identified as potential victims of sex abuse crimes.
The operation is called “Net Nanny” and began in August of 2015 by the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Since the original operation, there have been ten additional operations in Washington State. WSP Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF), an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) affiliate, spearheads the multi-agency operation that includes partners in federal, state, and local law enforcement.
The “Net Nanny” series, conducted throughout the State of Washington, has netted a total of 170 arrests and rescued 24 child victims identified during the operations.
“Sexual predators are using the internet to target our most vulnerable members of our community,” says WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “This operation not only protects our children from dangerous criminals but also making our communities safer by taking these predators off the streets.”
“I am proud of the teamwork of our partner agencies for this operation. Our men and women in law enforcement showed their courage and tenacity to protect the most vulnerable of our society to take these predators out of our communities,” says Jefferson County Sheriff David Stanko.
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said, “I would like to thank the Washington State Patrol and our other partner agencies working together to bring sexual predators to justice. There should be no tolerance for those who prey on the young and the innocent.”
For the four-day operation, law enforcement officers, acting in an undercover capacity, communicated on the internet through various websites with individuals interested in having sex with children. The operation generated hundreds of responses. The would-be perpetrators who were arrested in the operation traveled to meet with undercover detectives posing as young girls and boys with the intent to engage in sexual activity with them.
In addition to the 10 suspects that were arrested, one suspect was identified as having access to children at risk of being abused. Additional follow-up investigations are currently underway to identify those children. For any children who were abused, they will be offered the appropriate assistance to help them with their needs.
All cases will be presented to the Jefferson County Prosecutor office. “These are troubling cases and remind us just how vulnerable our children are to predators. I am very proud of the members of the law enforcement community and the Jefferson County and Clallam County Deputy Prosecutors that participated in this investigation,” says Michael Haas, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney.
Primary crimes investigated are:
RCW 9A.44.073 – Rape of a child in the first/second degree – attempt
RCW 9.68A.100 – Commercial sexual abuse of a minor
RCW 9.68A.090 – Communication with a minor for immoral purposes
RCW 69.50.4015 – Involving a person under 18 in unlawful controlled substance transaction
RCW 69.50.406 – Distribution to persons under age 18
The names of the individuals arrested during the operation are:
• Thomas E. Gale, 53, of Port Townsend, WA.
• Thomas E. Punt, 56, of Bremerton, WA.
• Andrew M. Worley, 34, of Sequim, WA.
• David L. Sprague, 34, of Sequim, WA.
• Richard J. Bertolacci, 77, of Bremerton, WA.
• Isaac J. Boyd, 21, of Sequim, WA.
• Timothy J. Rondeau, 48, of Quilcene, WA.
• Michael Schluetz, 65, of Hoodsport, WA.
• Ming Lee, 20, of Auburn, WA.
• Clinton R. Caldwell, 67, Sequim, WA.
The success of this operation was a collaborative effort involving over 60 dedicated law enforcement and staff from the following agencies:
• Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF)
• Jefferson County Sheriff Office
• Clallam County Sheriff Office
• Port Angeles Police Department
• Port Townsend Police Department
• Poulsbo Police Department
• Sequim Police Department
• Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Task Force (OPNET)
• Puget Sound Auto Theft Task – Force (PSATT)
• Southeast Region Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force
• U.S. Homeland Security Investigations
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)
• U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS)
• Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office
• Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office
• Washington State Attorney General Office
• U.S. Attorney General Office
• Washington State Patrol High-Tech Crime Unit
• Washington State Patrol Criminal Investigation Division
• Washington State Patrol Field Operation Bureau – District 8
The funding for this operation was made possible due in part by support from the public as well as a generous donation from Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). OUR is a non-profit 501(c)(3) shares the mission of law enforcement agencies to save children and see that child predators are arrested and prosecuted. “Operation Underground Railroad is privileged and honored to support Washington State Patrol in safeguarding children from sexual predators. WSP’s commitment to combatting the sexual exploitation of children is a credit to our law enforcement heroes. OUR is grateful for this private public partnership with Washington State Patrol”, says Jonathan Lines, President of OUR Operations.
MECTF is a state law enforcement agency governed by RCW 13.60.110, and not designated as a 501 (c)(3) charity. Please consult with your tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service to determine if your donation is tax exempt. To donate and support MECTF, please visit: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/mectf/donate.php.
Any information related to the suspects listed, or information leading to the identity of victims potentially involved in these cases can contact:
Washington State Patrol, MECTF
Sergeant Carlos Rodriguez at 360-704-2395
All proceeds go directly to MECTF and are used explicitly in the identification and safe recovery of exploited children, the investigation of those sexually exploiting children, and successful apprehension and prosecution thereof.