TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Morris County man was sentenced to prison today for attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl for sex. The “girl” in fact was an undercover detective of the New Jersey State Police who responded to the man’s ad on Craigslist seeking a “younger female.”
Robert Elmi, 64, of Gillette, N.J., was sentenced today to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Candido Rodriguez in Union County. Elmi pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to a charge of luring a child. He will be required to register as a sex offender and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
Elmi was arrested by the New Jersey State Police on Nov. 9, 2017. He had placed an ad on Craigslist soliciting a relationship with a younger female. An undercover State Police detective responded, posing as a young girl and indicating to Elmi that she was 13. Elmi communicated with the “13-year-old” for several weeks by text and email, ultimately arranging to meet her at a diner in Union County. He told the “girl” he would take her back to his apartment, where they would drink, watch TV, kiss and perform oral sex on each other. Elmi was arrested by the State Police at the diner where he had gone to meet the girl.
Deputy Attorneys General Jamie Picard and Rachael Weeks prosecuted Elmi for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Julia Glass.
Elmi was among 79 child predators and child pornography offenders arrested in “Operation Safety Net,” a nine-month, multi-agency child protection operation that concluded in November. The operation was conducted by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is led by the New Jersey State Police and includes the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, and many other state, county and local law enforcement agencies. Ten alleged “hands-on” offenders were arrested in Operation Safety Net, including seven other New Jersey men, as well as men in California and Indiana who allegedly tried to have children transported interstate from New Jersey by adult traffickers so they could have sex with the children.
“We will never cease in our collaborative efforts to monitor social media and other sites for child predators, because we have no higher priority than protecting children,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I urge parents to talk to their children about the dangers of social media and the fact that predators may rely on the anonymity of the internet to try to manipulate children into situations where they can be harmed.”
“If Elmi had found a vulnerable victim before an alert State Police detective found him, he might have carried out his plan to sexually assault a child instead of being sent to prison,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Unfortunately, there are many offenders like Elmi out there, and we urge people to contact us if they suspect someone is trying to groom a child online for predatory purposes.”
“May all of these malicious predators like Elmi be put on notice and know that the child they are planning on abusing may very well be a New Jersey State Trooper on the other end of the computer,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I applaud the efforts of our detectives and partners tasked with catching these twisted offenders and putting them behind bars where they belong.”
In addition to investigating numerous cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the ICAC Task Force in Operation Safety Net conducted proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography. Detectives also conducted undercover chat investigations on social media platforms, which led to arrests of alleged hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Honig urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Assistant Deputy Public Defender Dino Bjelopoljak, Union County
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