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Former Island Trees Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

Sentence May Be Lessened

After Cooperation With Officials

Less than a year after he was arrested and charged with child pornography trafficking, former Island Trees Memorial Middle School science teacher Richard Hartig, a Lindenhurst resident, has pled guilty to the charges.

On Wednesday, March 31, Hartig, with his attorney Anthony Colleluori, appeared in court to enter the guilty plea for the events that led up to his indictment on July 14, 2009, when he was charged with trafficking child pornography, a deed that Hartig has taken steps to rectify.

In cooperation with the FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Office and Suffolk County Police’s joint investigation, Hartig, “allowed investigators to take over his online identity and led investigators to someone who was creating child porn,” a Department of Justice official told the Levittown Tribune. The official said the investigators tracked the man, a sex offender, through his IP address and state police arrested him in California. The state police also arrested another sex offender living with him.

“These guys were creating porn; they were pedophiles” Colleluori told the Tribune. “[Hartig’s] crime is voyeurism. It’s a compulsion. He doesn’t act on it. There was never an issue. He supervised kids’ events. Opportunity was ripe but he didn’t take it.”    

Hartig taught at Island Trees Memorial Middle School for 15 years.

Colleluori said Hartig had a perspective of “I want to make amends for what I had done, I understand now and want to fix it,” Colleluori said, paraphrasing Hartig’s outlook.

Hartig’s cooperation will most likely lead to a lesser sentence, the Department of Justice official said, as the Department will write a letter to Judge Joseph Bianco, lauding Hartig’s cooperation. With the letter, if Bianco chooses to, he may go below the minimum sentencing guidelines.

Hartig was arrested last June when undercover FBI officials found him in an Internet chat room dedicated to child pornography.

U.S. District Court documents stated that Hartig “intentionally received visual depictions… involving the use of one or more minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct” between October 2008 and June 2009.

Hartig’s sister and brother-in-law, Maureen and Don Carman have put together a digital book of newspaper clippings that tout Hartig’s accomplishments in receiving teaching awards and volunteering at Freeport and Lindenhurst fire departments.

Hartig, who is currently being held at the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow, was sexually abused as a child by a neighbor, according to Colleluori.

Sentencing is set for July 9 but Colleluori said he thinks it will probably be moved back to September.