Parole official arrested on child porn charges

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A senior state parole official who oversees supervisors of paroled sex offenders was arrested Tuesday at his Bethpage home on a child pornography charge.

James Blase Leone, 50, pleaded not guilty to possession of child pornography at his arraignment in federal court in Central Islip.

He was released on $500,000 bond by U.S. Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson despite Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Lee Bode's objection that Leone was a danger to the community.

Leone, who waived a preliminary hearing, was released to home detention with electronic monitoring until his next court date, which has not yet been determined.

His lawyer, Joseph Conway of Mineola, declined to comment.

According to the criminal complaint, Leone was arrested after an undercover operation tracked child pornography to a computer in his home earlier this month. Based on that information, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents executed a search warrant at his home Tuesday.

Leone admitted to officials Tuesday to searching for "preteen hard-core" pornography on the Internet and downloading it to his computer, and that he had been doing so for about a year, the complaint says. Leone said he deleted the videos so his wife and child would not find them, the complaint said.

Leone said he believed he downloaded 10 to 15 videos on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, but viewed still images without downloading them, the complaint said.

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Leone is a senior parole officer for the New York State Division of Parole.

Before that he was a probation officer in New York City and worked for the city's child welfare bureau as a child abuse investigator, the complaint said.

Tomlinson said that Leone is not allowed to work as a parole officer pending the outcome of the case and the New York State inspector general confiscated his gun.

With Robert E. Kessler

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