Thursday, July 23, 2009

Supermarket Exec Nabbed in Internet Sex Sting

The treasurer of city-based supermarket chain Gristede’s has been charged with arranging a sexual rendezvous with a person he met online who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

Michael Seltzer, 59, of Pomona, Rockland County, was arraigned last week on charges of second and third-degree attempted rape and attempted criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors and attempted endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

According to the charges, an NYPD vice detective was operating in his undercover persona as a 14-year-old girl from Queens between July 22, 2008 and July 14, 2009, during which time he received numerous sexually-charged instant messages from the defendant, who was using the screen name LOVE775419.

Seltzer, a top executive with the Gristede’s Sloan’s Inc. supermarket chain, was arrested last Tuesday when he showed up at a pre-arranged location in Douglaston for what he believed would be a sexual encounter with the 14-year-old he had been instant messaging. He was arrested after approaching a female undercover police officer waiting there and allegedly identifying himself as the person with whom she had been conversing online. Two search warrants were executed that night – one at Seltzer’s residence, where three computers were seized, and one at his place of business, Gristede’s Foods, Inc., on 11th Avenue in Manhattan, where his office computer was seized.

“The case underscores the crucial importance of Internet surveillance initiatives by law enforcement to protect children from sexual predators and should serve as a warning to parents to closely monitor their children’s Internet access and activities,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

This isn’t Seltzer’s first brush with the law. In 1999, he was accused of bribing a city investigator to avoid $200,000 in back taxes Gristedes owed. He was caught on tape offering the inspector $20,000 and pleaded not guilty to two felony bribery charges. The outcome of that case was not immediately available.

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