A man from Staten Island, NY, will be spending the next three years behind bars for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with someone he met online and thought was a 14-year-old girl.

In reality, the teen girl was a detective with the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office's High-tech crimes unit.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina says 44-year-old John Emilio pleaded guilty in January to attempted endangering the welfare of children (impairing or debauching the morals of a child – third-degree). The three-year prison sentence was handed down in Superior Court on Wednesday. He will also be placed on the New Jersey sex offender registry upon release and be under parole supervision for life.

Coffina says Emilio became a suspect in November, 2019, during a proactive investigation into the exploitation of children online. Emilio initiated contact and sent pictures of his genitals. He said he was very excited that he would be having sex with a girl so young and looked forward to taking her virginity.

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Emilio suggested coming to Burlington County to have sex with the girl, either at a motel or inside his vehicle, but the trip never actually happened. He was arrested at his home in February.

"This defendant’s calculated, predatory behavior presented a very real and very dangerous threat to the vulnerable population he was targeting online," Coffina said in a statement. "We are thankful that there was no actual victim, but this case underscores the risks to children from online communication, and we urge parents to pay attention to the cyber activity of their kids."

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the NYPD's Computer Crimes Squad; the United States Homeland Security Investigations – Cherry Hill Office; the Cinnaminson Township Police Department; and the Richmond County, NY, District Attorney’s Office.

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