Cortland officer credited with takedown in child porn case

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Robert Riccardi, 71, is sitting in a prison cell in Orient, Ohio

CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – A police officer in Cortland, who’s part of the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, is getting a lot of credit for helping catch a Trumbull County man with child porn.

Robert Riccardi, 71, is sitting in a prison cell in Orient, Ohio. He was sentenced last month as part of a pornography case in Bazetta Township initiated by a Cortland police officer.

We’re concealing the name of the officer and task force agent because she works undercover. She said Riccardi’s employer at the time contacted police after discovering questionable material on their computer server.

“Bazetta contacted me knowing that I was an agent with the task force and asked for my assistance. As the investigation went on, I searched both his laptop at work and his house, and we found more child exploitation material,” she said.

The search at Riccardi’s Bazetta Township house last September also uncovered a secret camera hidden in the bathroom, where the agent says he was recording friends and family members.

After pleading guilty on more than two dozen counts, Riccardi was sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

“With the information we got, the way we investigated it and all that, she was able to close the case with our task force, and that’s what the task force is for,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

Greene said having officers assigned from communities like Cortland is crucial to the success of the task force.

“It gives us the ability to investigate outwards and sometimes go to other jurisdictions,” Greene said.

The agent has been with the task force for the last couple of years and has been involved with a number of raids, as well as stings, catching men trying to arrange for sex with children. Many times, the suspects were actually talking and chatting with her. She calls human trafficking a huge problem that’s only getting worse, especially with the pandemic.

“Because people have been working from home and kids weren’t going to school. It was the perfect storm,” she said.

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