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CASES UNDER WAY IN BEAUTY QUEEN BUSTS
Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Author: ALFONSO A. CASTILLO
Date: May 9, 2007
Copyright Newsday Inc., 2007
A week after District Attorney Thomas Spota blasted a televised Suffolk police Internet sex sting that enlisted
the help of the reigning Miss America, the prosecutions against those nabbed in the bust are well
under way.
Spota had called the operation a “publicity stunt” and said his offi ce had been kept in the dark about
its details. Spota’s offi ce since then has examined the evidence and been assured that beauty queen
Lauren Nelson will be available to testify. The prosecutor’s offi ce declined to comment yesterday on the
strength of the cases.
Ronald Stahl, 43, a Holbrook luxury car salesman, pleaded not guilty yesterday to indictment charges of
second-degree attempted sodomy and attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors. He was
released on bail of $75,000 bond.
Stahl was one of 11 men charged in the April 20 operation by the Suffolk police computer crimes unit. As
part of the sting, Nelson posed as an underage girl, chatting with potential predators online and using a
photo of her as a young teenager to lure them. It was televised on “America’s Most Wanted.”
It was not apparent what, if any, involvement Nelson had in Stahl’s arrest. Assistant District Attorney
Shauna Lonigro said in court that Stahl spoke to an undercover detective posing as a minor to arrange a
meeting at the Bay Shore marina.
Lonigro said Stahl, who went by the screen name “Bytemeeea,” used “extremely sexually explicit” language
in an Internet chat room to describe the sexual acts he intended to perform in the back of his car.
On the program, host John Walsh confronted Stahl at the marina and asked, “What the hell are you doing
here?” Stahl told Walsh that he did not intend to have sex with the girl, but rather was there to “get her
not to do this with people.”
Stahl’s attorney, Michael Brown, of Central Islip, said his client was fi red from his job selling cars at a
Huntington Mercedes- Benz dealership.
“It’s all Hollywood,” said Brown, who criticized the police operation, aired during a ratings “sweeps” period
on Fox. “That’s not what the police department is supposed to be used for.”