You are reading

Forest Hills Man Repeatedly Trafficked 13-Year-Old Boy to Queens For Sex After They Met Online: Feds

Manuel Moretti, pictured, was arrested for repeatedly trafficking a boy to Queens and sexually assaulting him after they met online (Photo via FBI)

Jan. 18, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

A Forest Hills man has been arrested for repeatedly trafficking a 13-year-old boy to Queens and sexually assaulting him after they met online.

Manuel Moretti, 39, was indicted in Brooklyn federal court Thursday on sex-trafficking charges after he allegedly lured the boy across state lines to his apartment on at least four occasions early last year for sex, according to the criminal complaint.

Moretti, an IT professional who works from home, is also accused of giving the boy a fake adult ID and continuing to contact him for sex after the defendant was interviewed by the FBI in December, prosecutors said.

Following the FBI interview, Moretti also allegedly told the victim to use a blocked telephone number to communicate with him in an apparent attempt to dodge law enforcement, prosecutors said.

“These allegations serve as a reminder of the dangers to our children from online predators and the importance of being aware of whom our children are communicating with online,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.

“Our office is deeply committed to protecting vulnerable victims from sexual exploitation and will vigorously prosecute offenders like Moretti, who allegedly prey on children.”

Moretti met the boy on a social networking site in January 2021 and then arranged for the victim to travel to his Forest Hills apartment for sex on four separate occasions between January 2021 and April 2021, prosecutors said.

During the FBI interview in December, Moretti admitted to meeting the boy and engaging in sexual acts with him, prosecutors said.

Moretti described the boy as “young-looking” to the FBI but denied knowing the victim was 13-years-old, prosecutors said.

The defendant said he knew the victim was attending school and lived at home with his parents. Moretti also said he gave the boy an adult state identification document so that the victim could gain entry to his apartment.

Knowing the boy was 13, Moretti contacted the boy via Snapchat last month following the FBI interview in order to arrange another meet-up with him, prosecutors said

He was charged under the Mann Act with four counts of transportation of a minor and two counts of attempted interstate coercion and enticement of a minor.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Moretti was denied bail, deemed a danger to the community and a flight risk. Prosecutors also argued he may try to contact the victim again.

The FBI asked for the public’s assistance in identifying other possible sex crimes carried out by Moretti.

“Moretti may have victimized others and we’re asking anyone with information to call us at 1-800-CALL-FBI,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said.

The FBI also appealed to parents to speak to their children about staying safe online, following Moretti’s arraignment.

“Cyberspace may not seem real to some children, or even parents, but it poses a real danger as we allege in this investigation,” Driscoll said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t stop these crimes from happening because the internet allows sexual predators direct access to victims.”

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.