Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pelham Middle School teacher arrested

A Pelham Middle School teacher and former Pleasantville lacrosse coach was on suicide watch at the Westchester County jail last night after he was arrested in an Internet sex sting in which he thought he was meeting an underage girl for a tryst, authorities said.

Gregg Cavaluzzi, 34, of Yorktown was arrested in Elmsford about 4:40 a.m. Sunday after he showed up for the meeting with a condom in his car, a federal prosecutor said.

Detectives with the Westchester County Police Internet Crimes Squad took Cavaluzzi into custody and he was charged with enticement of a minor for sex, a federal crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The "girl" was actually a detective with the squad and first connected with Cavaluzzi in a chat room called FamilyLove.

Cavaluzzi, using the screen name Instructor4, is accused of sending sexually explicit messages and photos while believing she was 15, police said. He had initially balked at meeting her at a hotel, police said, but agreed to see her when she gave him an address in Elmsford and said it was her home.

County detectives were assisted in the investigation by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force in White Plains.

According to the criminal complaint, Cavaluzzi started having contact with undercover officers posing as young girls as far back as January 2008.

Cavaluzzi taught seventh-grade social studies in Pelham for the past two years, after working in New York City schools.

But he submitted his resignation about a month ago, effective at the end of the school year, Schools Superintendent Dennis Lauro said.

Police notified Pelham officials about the arrest yesterday morning. His students were notified, the arrest was the subject of a faculty meeting later in the day, and a letter was sent to all district parents.

"It was a surprise to us. I was glad to hear from police it had nothing to do with any of our students," Lauro said. "He was a good teacher. ... He was quite popular with the students and the parents."

Cavaluzzi was suspended without pay following his appearance in court, Lauro said.

His court-appointed lawyer, Amy Attias, said Cavaluzzi suffered from depression and was a cocaine addict who had ingested $300 worth of crack Saturday night into Sunday morning. She said it was his drug habit that led to the actions that caused his arrest.

"I would say that this is one of the saddest cases of a person living with two different personalities due to a drug addiction," she said.

Cavaluzzi stood with his head down for much of the proceeding yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Davison in U.S. District Court in White Plains. He said he had been treated for drug addiction two years ago on an outpatient basis.

"I suffer from depression, but I understand the proceedings," he said when Davison asked if he knew what was going on.

Cavaluzzi's mother blew her son kisses as he entered court. She clutched rosary beads throughout his 30-minute hearing.

Attias asked that Cavaluzzi be released to a drug treatment center. Davison declined but left open the possibility of revisiting the issue.

Davison agreed to Attias' request that jail officials be notified that Cavaluzzi might be suicidal.
Cavaluzzi was a standout defenseman on the Yorktown High School lacrosse team that won three state championships in the early 1990s. He went on to play for Essex Community College in Baltimore County, Md.

He coached the Pleasantville lacrosse team for three seasons before stepping down in the summer of 2008 and had previously coached Ridgefield High School to a Connecticut state championship. He was an assistant coach for the Hudson Valley lacrosse squad that won the bronze medal during the summer's Empire State Games - and 16 years earlier had played on the last Hudson Valley team to win Empire State Games gold.

Cavaluzzi started a business, One-on-One Lacrosse, that offers individual and small-group coaching for preteens and teenagers.

He is due in court June 15.

Pelham Middle School teacher arrested lohud.com The Journal News

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1 comment:

Joseph said...

Please go to www.protectmasschildren.org
They are a grassroots organization trying to build enough support to file a ballot initiative for strong mandatory sentences for sex offenders. PLEASE GO TO WWW.PROTECTMASSCHILDREN.ORG and sign on as a supporter.