Feds: Child porn charges for prominent East End architect

Architect Jay Lockett Sears talks at the Hamptons

Architect Jay Lockett Sears talks at the Hamptons Celebrity roundtable at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. (July 9, 2003) (Credit: Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill)

A prominent East End architect, who also runs his own charitable organization for troubled families, was arrested Friday by FBI agents on child pornography charges, officials said.

Jay Lockett Sears, 73, who was a principal in the Quogue architectural firm of Sears & Sears, has designed homes priced at as much as $15 million for such celebrities as Michael J. Fox, Susan Lucci and Clint Eastwood.

Sears engaged in "taking pictures of children at public events, such as beach and yacht club parties and society events," court papers say.

Sears then would take the photos of the young girls and superimpose their faces on adult women in pornographic pictures while superimposing the pictures of young boys or his face on the adult males involved, court papers say.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the Eastern District said they eventually recovered hundreds of such pictures allegedly created by Sears.

Federal courts have ruled that actions of which Sears is accused -- known as morphing -- are a clear violation of child pornography laws and "that morphed images were illegal because they 'implicate[d]' the interests of real children," the court papers said.

The investigation continues and is looking into whether Sears was actually involved in physically abusing children, according to sources familiar with the case.

Sears was arraigned Friday at the federal court in Central Islip and held without bail as a danger to the community. He was not required to plead to a charge of possessing and producing child pornography.

His attorney, Daniel Barker of Riverhead, declined to comment, as did federal prosecutors Allen Bode and Thomas Sullivan.

An investigation into Sears' alleged actions began recently when an unidentified person informed police after finding some of the pictures in the trash while emptying a container at the Brookhaven Town Dump transfer station, according to court papers.

FBI agents and Suffolk police questioned the contractor who had dumped the photos, the papers said.

The unnamed contractor said Sears had hired him to clean up an apartment that Sears was renting at 208 Walden Pond Ct. in East Moriches.

Sears designed 1,500 homes on the East End, according to a Newsday story about his career. He also acted in Hollywood, once playing a surfer in the 1959 classic beach blanket movie "Gidget."

Sears' Mission of Kindness organization helps needy families, and he is also active in a number of East End charities and other volunteer groups, he has said in interviews.

Sears faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, asked that parents who believe that their children may have been the victims of people involved in child pornography contact the Suffolk police at 631-852-6279 or the FBI at 631-501-8600.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

advertisement | advertise on newsday