Frankish man risks probation for illegal contact in internet sting operation

NORRISTOWN — A man from the Franconia municipality has been under court surveillance for several years after he admitted to having had unlawful contact, via a social media app, with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, but in reality was a law enforcement officer.

Sean Patrick Burke, 37, of the 100 block of Thomas Drive, was sentenced to five years’ probation in Montgomery County Court after pleading guilty to two offenses of unlawful contact with a minor in connection with incidents that occurred in January 2020.

Judge Thomas C. Branca has also ordered Burke not to have unsupervised contact with minors and Burke will be under the supervision of sex offenders. Burke also had to hand in his cell phone.

In addition, Burke faces a 25-year requirement to provide his address to state police to comply with Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Burke was arrested as part of an undercover investigation conducted by members of the Child Predator Unit of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, who assumed the identity and characteristics of a 13-year-old girl on the mobile social media application Whisper.

The Burke investigation began on Jan. 14, 2020, when Burke, using a Whisper profile, sent a private message to the undercover cop posing as the underage girl, according to the indictment filed by Eric Barlow, a special agent at the attorney’s office. of the general.

The investigator indicated to Burke that he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl, according to court documents. During the communication, Burke sent a photo of his penis to the alleged child “after learning that he was communicating with a supposed 13-year-old female child,” Barlow claimed.

“The photo sent to the alleged child shows the actor’s full naked body, including his penis,” Barlow said in the affidavit of arrest.

Burke also discussed oral sex with the alleged child, Barlow claimed.

Authorities used a subpoena to obtain information that linked Burke to being a subscriber to the Whisper account that communicated with the undercover agent.

When authorities went to Burke’s residence on Feb. 12, 2020, and confronted him with the allegations, he identified the nude photo as his own and agreed to a search of his cell phone, according to court papers.

Burke stated that he and his girlfriend were fighting and that “he went on Whisper to blow off steam,” Barlow claimed in the indictment.

“Burke stated that he remembered talking to a 13-year-old woman about oral sex with her and sending her a nude photo of himself,” Barlow claimed. Burke stated that he knew it was wrong to have this communication and to send a nude photo of himself to a minor.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Michelle Laucella. Attorney Elliot Cohen represented Burke.

Other charges of criminally using a communications facility and distributing obscene or sexual material to minors were dismissed against Burke.

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