WHITE PLAINS Former Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.
Fanelli, a 56-year-old Mahopac resident, was arrested in January 2014 — two months after taking the police chief job — after federal agents raided his home. He stood accused of using a peer-to-peer file sharing network to download and share more than 120 files containing child pornography.
Monday in White Plains federal court, in front of family, friends and supporters, the 30 year-plus police force veteran plead guilty to one count of possession of child pornography before of U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed not to seek a sentence longer than four years, three months. The maximum is 10 years.
Fanelli also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
“Admitted to a crime that victimizes and exploits some of the most vulnerable in our community”
“I’m truly sorry for the harm I’ve caused, especially to the victims in this case but also to my family, my police department and the government,” Fanelli, 56, told Karas. He said he was under treatment for depression and anxiety.
Fanelli’s sentence will be determined by the judge. Karas also mentioned the potential for sex offender registration, at which point Fanelli wept, leading the judge to take a break.
Fanelli’s wife and daughter were among a small group of supporters in the gallery.
By his guilty plea to downloading and possessing child pornography, Brian Fanelli, a former police chief who swore to protect and serve, admitted to a crime that victimizes and exploits some of the most vulnerable in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.
The complaint said Fanelli told investigators he first used the pornographic images as research for sex abuse awareness classes he taught to schoolchildren. According to investigators, Fanelli said he later began viewing them “for personal interest.”