Rockland County District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II announced today the completion of a monthslong cybercrime operation in Rockland County known as “Operation Catfish.” The operation has netted the arrest of seven individuals and a guilty plea since January 2022. Numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies assisted the Rockland County District Attorney’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force with this investigation. The mission of the ICAC Task Force is to identify individuals online who are attempting to lure children to meet for sex or those disseminating child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Most of these investigations originated via CyberTips forwarded to us by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). They revealed the defendants used media platforms which possessed child sexual abuse material. The following individuals have been charged:
• Peter Tralongo, 34, of Valley Cottage, NY – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a
Child (D Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony)
• Byron Diaz-Jeronimo, 24, of Spring Valley, NY – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by
a Child (D Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony).
• Lazaro Hernandez, 40, of Suffern, NY – Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (D
Felony) and Possessing an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony).
• Michael Anelli, 24, of Palisades, NY – Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child (E Felony) 25
Throughout 2022, Rockland County District Attorney’s Office Investigators have engaged adults who
use chatrooms and social media platforms to engage in inappropriate conversations with minors. The
predators are using these conversations to lure underage children into meeting them for sex. To date,
three individuals have been arrested and charged for this illegal conduct:
• Tomasz Szeliga, 32, of Orangetown, NY – Attempted Criminal Sexual Act 2nd (D Felony),
Attempted Disseminating Indecent Materials to Minors 1st (D Felony), and Possessing a Sexual
Performance by a Child (E Felony).
• Ryan Mowery, 36, of Johnstown, NY – Attempted Dissemination of Indecent Material to Minors
– 1st Degree (E Felony)
• Brian Reed, 34, of Sussex, NJ – Rape 2nd Degree and Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors
1st Degree (*Charged Federally)
On December 5, 2022, Tomasz Szeliga pled guilty on his indictment and is scheduled to be sentenced to 3 years in state prison.
“Upon being elected District Attorney in 2020, It has been a top priority for my Office to protect innocent children in Rockland County from being preyed upon by sexual predators,” said District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II. Today’s announcement sends a strong message to any child predator, if you prey upon children in Rockland County, our ICAC Task Force will work with federal, state, and local
partners to track you down, identify you and prosecute you to the full extent of the law. “
“It’s a frightening reality that there are people lurking online who want to harm or exploit children. Tracking down these individuals takes significant resources and close cooperation across jurisdictions, but these results show what can be achieved when we work together. We are proud to partner with the Rockland County Internet Crimes Against Children task force as we work towards our shared goal
to find those who prey on children and bring them to justice,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York.
The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has been a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) since 2020. This highly effective operation was assisted by the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York State Police, Ramapo Police Department, Clarkstown Police Department, Orangetown Police Department, Stony Point Police Department, Haverstraw Police Department, Suffern Police Department, Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent
until proven guilty