September 12, 2007
Sex Sting Nabs Longtime Southampton Village Employee
Employees at Southampton Village Hall were "shocked" to learn last week that a longtime employee was one of 21 men arrested in a summer sting targeting child sexual predators.
Fred Volkmer, 62, a longtime Southampton Village resident until he recently moved to Hampton Bays, was the former deputy treasurer for the village, as well as a book reviewer for the New York Sun and Southampton Press. Volkmer pled not guilty last week to three counts of attempted disseminating indecent material to a minor.
Volkmer's arrest was announced last Thursday by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who said the sting had been set up to nab child sexual predators who'd used the Internet to prey on Nassau County children.
Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said that he was "just shocked" to hear that Volkmer, who was employed as deputy treasurer for 23 years, had been arrested. "Everyone in Village Hall is in a state of shock at this time," said Epley.
And, as news spread, others in the village echoed the emotion. Former Village Trustee Harold Steudte, who worked in Village Hall for 10 years, said he remembers Volkmer as "a model employee. He was a sweetheart, very easygoing. That's what makes it so shocking."
Southampton Village Trustee Paul Robinson said he was "saddened to hear the news. What he is accused of doing is morally wrong. But I've know Fred a long time, and he is not a bad person."
This summer, the Nassau DA's office arrested 21 men for crimes ranging from attempted disseminating indecent material to minors to attempted rape and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Stephen Treglia, chief of the technology crime unit of the Nassau County DA's office, said of Volkmer's offense, "We suspect this was done from his home."
According to Treglia, Volkmer "engaged in sexually explicit textual communications with someone believed to be a minor."
The first count, said Treglia, took place on September 9, 2005 and the "sexually explicit" communications took place during that specific month.
The reason why the arrests did not happen until recently, said Treglia, was that a decision had come down from the appellate court that prohibited the DA's office from prosecuting the case. It was only after a decision came down from the "highest court," the New York State Court of Appeals, on April 26, that the DA's office was able to proceed.
Treglia said that while some arrested sent photos and arranged "meets," Volkmer did not. But, said Treglia, the "discussions were sexually explicit."
Besides Volkmer, others arrested included a former TSA Homeland Security employee, a Town of Hempstead sanitation worker, an insurance company investigator, an accountant, and an attorney.
Rice said that each of the defendants engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with undercover detectives posing as underage girls.
She explained that six of the defendants, but not Volkmer, showed up at "meets," expecting to meet with the "underage girl" they were chatting with.
Eight undercover officers were used in the sting, as well as two officers from the Nassau County police department's first precinct who served as "decoy" underage girls.
"There isn't an issue more important to me than protecting our children," said Rice.
Andrew Botsford, Associate Editor of The Southampton Press, said that Volkmer wrote the music and book review for the Arts & Living section for many years. "Neither I, nor anyone else at the Press Newspaper Group, will be making comments on Fred, the arrest, or the investigation at this time."
Of the arrest, Steudte said, "It's disappointing. But," he added, "you're innocent until proven guilty. I hope it's not true. I hope it's a mistake."