Accused Smithtown child pornographer denied bail
A Smithtown real estate investor was ordered detained Thursday despite his attorneys offering an unusually stringent bail package after he pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment charging him with sexually exploiting two children by having them separately engage in child pornography.
Joseph Valerio, 47, of 3 High Gate Dr., was originally arrested at the beginning of February by FBI agents and Suffolk police on charges of having a former girlfriend in Ukraine make and send him child pornography involving her 3-year-old daughter.
A subsequent investigation led to Valerio being charged separately at the end of February with producing child pornography in the basement of his home involving a 6-year-old Smithtown girl.
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Yesterday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Central Islip followed Valerio's indictment by a grand jury that combined both child pornography cases.
In the new indictment, Valerio was charged with sexual exploitation of children, transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
If convicted, Valerio faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to Eastern District federal prosecutor Allen Bode.
Valerio had been released on $3 million bail after he was arrested by law enforcement officials in the first case, involving the 3-year-old Ukrainian girl. But he was returned to jail after his arrest on the second case.
In seeking their client's new release on bail, Valerio's attorneys, Anthony LaPinta and Leonard Lato, both of Hauppauge, argued before Judge Joseph Bianco that they had crafted a bail package that essentially would have turned the home of Valerio's mother in Massapequa into a private jail for him.
In addition to putting up more than $3 million in property, the bail package would require Valerio to pay for a 24-hour guard who would screen all visitors into the home, surveillance cameras would scan the grounds, and Valerio would wear an electronic bracelet.
In addition, the defense attorneys said computers and cellphones would be banned from the home, only a list of people approved by authorities would be allowed entry, anyone entering the house would be searched, including Valerio's mother, for cameras, computing devices and cellphones, and the list of permitted visitors would not include anyone under 18.
Bianco, however, agreed with prosecutor Bode that even under those conditions, Valerio was still a danger to the community and a flight risk.
Bianco, for example, noted that Valerio might be able to slip out of a part of the house where the guard was not present.
LaPinta and Lato declined to comment later.