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Smithtown real estate investor convicted on child porn charges

Smithtown real estate investor Joseph Valerio is seen

Smithtown real estate investor Joseph Valerio is seen here in a file photo.

A federal jury convicted a Smithtown real estate investor Thursday of all 15 counts in an indictment charging him with sexual exploitation of two young girls and producing child pornography, officials said.

Joseph Valerio had been accused in a 2010 case involving a then-6-year-old Smithtown girl in the basement of his home, and a 2012 case involving a then-3-year-old girl in Ukraine, both investigated by the FBI and Suffolk police detectives.

The 12-person jury took less than three hours to convict Valerio after a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Jurors also found that Valerio should forfeit to the government his Smithtown home, valued at $800,000, because it had been used in the exploitation of the 6-year-old and the production of child porn, according to officials.

Eastern District federal prosecutors Ameet Kabrawala and Allen Bode argued that the crimes against the 6-year-old had been committed mostly in the home's basement.

The basement had an apparent stage and a number of hidden cameras, the prosecutors said.

The 3-year-old was victimized by a former girlfriend of Valerio's who had returned to Ukraine and was paid up to $12,000 by Valerio to encourage the sexual exploitation and production of child porn, the prosecutors said.

The former girlfriend, Olena Kalichenko, was tricked by an FBI agent into returning to the United States in July on the premise that she would testify against Valerio, officials said.

Kalichenko is now in jail, awaiting trial on her alleged involvement in the exploitation of the 3-year-old, officials said.

Defense attorneys Leonard Lato and Anthony La Pinta said that Valerio was not guilty, and that Kalichenko or someone else could have manufactured the graphic videos of the girls.

While the jury reached its verdict quickly, juror Marla Dorgan said the panel carefully reviewed the "horrifying" evidence.

Dorgan, a Huntington saleswoman, said the prosecution's evidence was "so overwhelming."

Kabrawala and Bode declined to comment afterward. La Pinta and Lato, both of Hauppauge, also declined to comment, except to say that their client planned to appeal.

Valerio faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco.

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