School principal surrenders to ‘vigilante predator’ case

KINGSTON — A former school administrator for the Valley View School District turned himself in on Thursday on charges of soliciting what he believed to be a minor for sexual purposes.

Christopher W. Mazzino, 54, of Spring Brook Township, returned from Florida on Wednesday when he learned a warrant for his arrest had been obtained by Kingston police earlier this week, his attorney Curt Michael said. Parkins during a preliminary arraignment before District Judge James Haggerty in Kingston.

Police charged Mazzino and eight other men this week after Musa Harris, the eponymous Luzerne County predator catcher, turned over videos and chat logs of people he engaged with on media apps social media with the premise of having sex with minors.

During the arraignment, Parkins did not say Harris’ name but called him a “vigilante predator” while asking for unsecured bail, noting the seriousness of the charges against Mazzino.

Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce and Kingston Police Chief Rich Kotchik, when announcing the charges against the nine men on Tuesday, said a thorough search had been made and that each of the Harris’s case that he had turned over to the police had been thoroughly investigated by Detectives Stephen Gibson and Thomas Paratore.

Haggerty, for his part, said during Mazzino’s arraignment, “The Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office appears to have cracked the code,” referring to the filing of criminal charges based on online efforts and postings. of a private citizen.

Privately, those involved in filing criminal charges based on Harris’ efforts believe they are on “solid ground” as they hope any successful convictions and sentences will be upheld on appeal.

The charges against Mazzino alleged online communications he had with Harris, who is identified in the criminal complaint as a cooperating witness. Mazzino used the screen name, “Hi!”

According to the complaint, Mazzino believed he was communicating with an 18-year-old man, telling the man he was “very handsome”, while asking for photos to be sent to him because he liked his lips and hair. .

The online conversation turned sexual, with Mazzino expressing what he likes to do, including kissing, cuddling and some lewd acts, the complaint states.

During communications, Mazzino was told that he was not speaking with an 18-year-old but with someone three years younger.

Mazzino gave his age as 46 and asked for more photos after being told he was chatting with a 15-year-old boy, according to the complaint.

When Mazzino arranged a meetup, Harris met him and recorded the alleged event, which he posted on his social media platforms.

Shortly after the video was posted, Mazzino resigned from his position at Valley View, where he was director of literacy.

Mazzino was charged with two counts of criminal attempt to unlawfully contact a minor and one count each of criminal solicitation to commit lawful sexual assault and criminal use of a means of communication. He was released after posting $75,000 bail through a surety.

Haggerty ordered Mazzino not to use social media apps as part of his bail conditions.

Martha K. Merrill