BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Sep 19, 2018
A Monroe Township man was one of two dozen men arrested in a statewide, multi-agency operation targeting men who are alleged to have used social media illegally to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced on Sept. 18.
All defendants arrested face second-degree charges of attempted luring or enticing a child with a purpose to commit a criminal offense against the child. Some individuals also face additional third-degree charges. The minors the suspects thought they were travelling to see were undercover agents.
The township resident arrested was identified as Mina G. Beshay, 27, for allegedly attempted debauching morals of a child and attempting to show obscene material to a minor, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. Both are third-degree charges. In Beshay’s case, an undercover officer posed as a 15-year-old girl.
Also charged from Middlesex County in what authorities dubbed “Operation Open House,” was Robert Lisicki, 51, of Metuchen. He was charged with second-degree attempted sexual assault of a minor. The undercover officer posed as a 15-year-old boy.
The majority of defendants were arrested at a house in Toms River as part of the operation. According to the report, “they allegedly expected to find their victim home alone. Instead, they found dozens of law enforcement officers prepared to arrest.”
The others arrested were detained “… at other meet-up locations or were stopped in their cars after driving to the vicinity of those locations,” according to the report.
“It is a frightening reality that sexual predators are lurking on social media, ready to strike if they find a child who is vulnerable,” said Grewal. “To counter that threat, we are working collaboratively and aggressively across all levels of law enforcement to apprehend these sex offenders. We want child predators to know that we are on social media too – and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs. That is the message of Operation Open House.”
One of the individuals arrested, the report noted, was identified as a Howell Township police sergeant, Richard Conte, 47, “who allegedly attempted to meet a person he believed to be a 15-year-old girl for sex. He allegedly claimed in online chats that he was 19, and had condoms in his pocket when he was arrested.”
The arrest were made between Sept. 5 and Sept. 9. According to the report, the arrests included a range of individuals such as a nurse, firefighter, college students and a registered sex offender. They also said, Nabindranauth Nandalall, 24, traveled from his residence in the Bronx.
“We have no higher priority than protecting children, and we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of those who seek to victimize them,” said Veronica Allende director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
Those arrested were held in the Ocean County Jail until their detention hearings last week, according to authorities. They were released “subject to stringent pre-trial monitoring conditions,” that included no internet use except for work and no “unsupervised contact with children under 18 [years old].”
However, registered sex offender and hotel manager, Thomas Blumensteel, 47, of Manchester was held in jail pending a trial. According to the report, he was sentenced to three years in state prison in 1997 for aggravated criminal sexual contact for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy who he was supervising as a church counselor. Under “Operation Open House,” he was charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, a second-degree offense.
Conte, according to the report, was suspended from his job with the Howell Police Department, ordered to turn in his weapon and is under home detention.
Authorities confiscated any devices the individuals had on them when they were arrested and will review information on those items to determine if additional charges or investigations are necessary.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three of five years and a fine of up to $15,000.
“It is disturbing that some of the alleged child predators from this operation held positions of public service and authority, but behind closed doors they went through great lengths to avoid detection online, frequenting social media sites with the sole purpose of targeting unsuspecting children,” said Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police.