PORT TOWNSEND — One man has pleaded guilty and another was found guilty by a jury following their arrest in a Net Nanny operation.
Ming Fai Lee of Auburn is facing five years in prison after undercover investigators caught him in the operation in which he believed he was talking to two 13-year-old children.
Lee, 21 and a Chinese citizen, pleaded guilty on Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court to second-degree attempted rape of a child and second-degree commercial sexual abuse of a minor, according to a news release.
Charges in the case arose from a multi-agency Missing and Exploited Children Task Force “Net Nanny” operation, which took place between March 22, 2018 and March 25, 2018.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss an additional count of second-degree attempted rape of a child, two counts of commercial sexual abuse of a minor and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
According to court records, Lee talked with a detective, who he believed to be two 13-year-old female children, expressing his interest in sexual relations with them.
Lee offered money in exchange for sex and then “took a substantial step toward accomplishing his stated intent” by going to a pre-arranged location to accomplish those acts, the news release stated.
A SWAT team arrested the Lee at the location in Port Hadlock.
Based on his criminal history, Lee would be facing 90 to 120 months incarceration under state law. Because Lee is a Chinese citizen and will likely face deportation upon completion of his sentence, prosecutors agreed to recommend 60 months in prison.
Sentencing has been set for Feb. 15 to allow the state Department of Corrections to complete a pre-sentence investigation report to assist the court at the time of sentencing.
Also on Friday, Richard John Bertolacci, 78, was found guilty by a jury of first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child.
According to the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, Bertolacci engaged in email conversations with an undercover detective posing as the mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 12, who offered her children for sex with Bertolacci in exchange for money.
The Bremerton resident expressed interest in sex with the children and detailed his intention to engage in sexual relations with them. The defendant went to a pre-arranged location to accomplish those acts. A SWAT team arrested Bertolacci at the location in Port Hadlock on March 24, 2018.
Based on the defendant’s criminal history, he faces 90-120 months incarceration under state law. Regardless of the sentence imposed by the court, the defendant will be subject to review by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board before he will be released from prison.
His sentencing has also been set for Feb. 15 to allow the Department of Corrections to complete a pre-sentence investigation report.
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy said he was pleased with the progress made on the Net Nanny cases.
“I’m very proud of [Chief Deputy Prosecutor] Julie St. Marie and [Jefferson County Detective] Shane Stevenson, and the entire Missing and Exploited Children Task Force. Julie and Shane put in a lot of work on these cases and the fruit of that work is coming through and paying off. They are working very hard to make the community safer by putting dangerous people away.”
According to Kennedy, three additional Net Nanny trials have been scheduled.
Michael Schleutz, 65, of Hoodsport was charged with two counts of second-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 28.
David L. Sprague, 34, of Sequim was charged with first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child. His trial is set for Feb. 25.
Timothy J. Rondeau Jr., 31, of Quilcene was charged with first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial is expected to begin March 25.
The Net Nanny internet sting was a multi-agency undercover operation with participation by the Jefferson and Clallam county sheriff’s offices; Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim and Poulsbo police departments; detectives with the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET) as well as the Internet Crimes Against Children task force; agents with Homeland Security, the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Services, as well as investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].