After Nutley Fire Chief Henry Meola was busted in North Bergen by a YouTube operation that seeks to expose child predators, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office is coming out against “vigilante activity.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Over the last few months, Bergen County has experienced several instances of a private citizen using the Internet to identify individuals who are attempting to lure minors into sexual activity and arranging for the arrest by law enforcement of these targeted individuals. The scenarios and arrests are then publicized on YouTube,” the BCPO said in a statement yesterday.
“The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Bergen County law enforcement do not condone this vigilante activity. Bergen County law enforcement strongly discourages this activity, which holds the potential for violence and injury to the individuals involved as well as innocent bystanders. It also jeopardizes the due process rights of potential targets, puts private citizens in danger, and risks involving law enforcement in illegal activity.”
They continued that private citizens who engage in such tactics will be called to testify as witnesses during court proceedings and may also to subject to civil liability.
While they did not get into specifics, it is evident they are referencing OBL Nation, who tricked Meola, 33, into thinking he was meeting a 14-year-old boy for sexual activity at the North Bergen Walmart earlier this month – also getting his admission on camera.
As a result, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office charged Meola with one count of luring and attempted endangering the welfare of a child last week.
Shortly after the charges were announced, OBL Nation posted a nearly 90-minute YouTube video detailing how they set Meola up and how the Nutley Police Department became involved with the situation almost immediately.