Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are seeking the public’s help to identify possible additional victims in an ongoing child sexual exploitation investigation involving a man who volunteered with Little League Baseball for the St. Pete Breeze.
Michael Joseph Armano, 43, of St. Petersburg, was arrested April 27, 2016, by HSI special agents for child enticement, production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
Armano is originally from North Andover, Massachusetts, and later moved to St. Petersburg, where he worked at Landstar and was a volunteer Little League Baseball coach for the St. Pete Breeze.
He also taught pre-school in Hartford, Connecticut, and coached Little League Baseball or instructed players in Hartford, Connecticut; Cheshire, Connecticut; Lawrence, Massachusetts; and North Andover, Massachusetts.
Evidence shows that Armano posed as young male and female juveniles, approximately 11-14 years old, utilizing the Internet in Saint Petersburg, and enticed other young male and female juveniles, in the same age range, from around the country to engage in sexually explicit conduct, utilizing webcams or other mediums, which was recorded unbeknownst to the victim children.
(Learn More about Operation Predator and download the HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app today! Courtesy of ICE.gov and YouTube)
The social media applications he used from approximately 2010-2015 were Facebook, OoVoo, AOL instant messaging, Twitter, Kik Messenger, Instagram, Google, Myspace, etc.
“We are certain there are more children that were victimized by this predator, and we ask for the public and parents to help us identify them and make sure they receive the support they need,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge for HSI Tampa.
“This case serves as a grave warning to our communities to be vigilant about our children’s online activities.”
“These young people thought they were communicating with their peers, when in fact, it was an adult predator on the other side of the computer.”
Any person who was, or knows of someone who may have been, a possible victim of Armano’s is urged to contact HSI at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form.
Armano’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 28. This case is being prosecuted by the office of Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow, Middle District of Florida.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.
In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form.
Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.