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East End architect Sears pleads not guilty

Jay Lockett Sears age 73, leaving Federal Court

Jay Lockett Sears age 73, leaving Federal Court in Central Islip following his arraignment on child pornography charges handed down by a grand jury. (March 11, 2013). Credit: John Roca

A well-known East End architect pleaded not guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip to an indictment charging him with six counts of possessing child pornography.

Jay Lockett Sears, 73, of Quogue was arrested in January by FBI agents and Suffolk detectives, who said he took pictures of young children and superimposed their faces or his own on the faces of people engaged in adult pornography.

The indictment charges that Sears printed photographs of six girls and modified them so the minors appeared to be "engaging in sexually explicit conduct." A series of federal laws designed to protect children prohibit such computer-generated child pornography.

Sears was released on $250,000 bond in February on a number of conditions, including that he be confined to the apartment of an 82-year-old woman friend, who is one of the people who agreed to back his bond.

But Monday, federal magistrate Arlene Lindsay agreed to allow Sears to move into his own apartment in an unidentified senior complex, after the woman friend said her 17-year-old granddaughter would be visiting her for 10 days during the Easter holiday season and also over the summer.

Lindsay ruled Sears could remain free in his apartment on the condition that the woman friend would have to visit him at a random times at least once a day. She was told to report any other violations of the release conditions to court authorities. Those conditions include Sears being barred from having any device that could be used to access the Internet or to have contact with any children.

"You've been deputized by the court," Lindsay told the woman, who agreed to the conditions.

Lindsay ruled federal pretrial service officers would also make random checks on Sears, who is being monitored by an electronic bracelet. He must remain confined to the apartment except for medical appointments, attorney visits and court hearings.

Lindsay ruled after Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode said the government did not take any position on Sears being allowed to live by himself.

Sears is credited with designing 1,500 homes, mostly on the East End, celebrities such as Michael J. Fox, Susan Lucci and Clint Eastwood.

He also runs his Mission of Kindness organization, which helps needy families.

After court, both prosecutor Bode and Sears' attorney, Richard Signorelli, of Manhattan, declined to comment.

If convicted Sears could face up to 10 years in prison. No trial date has been set.

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