14’ll Get Ya Twenty: Miss America Sex Sting Operation

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Defense: ‘Miss America’ Sting on L.I. was TV Stunt
March 1, 2008

Miss America 2007 Lauren NelsonRiverhead, N.Y — A man arrested in an online sex sting that used a former Miss America as bait had no intention of doing anything illegal and was railroaded for the sake of a television show, his lawyer said.

Lawrence Carulli is on trial on a charge stemming from the April 2007 operation, in which Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson worked with police to pose as a lonely 14-year-old girl. She chatted with men online and on the phone, luring them to a Long Island home where a camera crew from the show America’s Most Wanted was waiting. The operation was featured in an episode that aired April 28, 2007.

Carulli, 49, acknowledges he solicited sex online from someone using the screen name “CindyLI14” and drove to Bay Shore for a rendezvous from his home in Brown Mills, N.J.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney John Cortes said in an opening statement Friday that Carulli believed his correspondent was 14. But Carulli and his lawyer maintain he was convinced she was 24.

Carulli sensed something amiss when he got to the Bay Shore house and left. He was arrested at a highway exit, driven three miles back to the house and “paraded” before the America’s Most Wanted cameras, his lawyer, Robert Macedonio, said Friday.

“This was run by a TV production company for the purposes of the media,” he said.

An America’s Most Wanted spokesman denied that last year, saying Suffolk County police were wholly in charge of the operation.

Eleven men were arrested in the sting. Seven pleaded guilty; Carulli and three others have pleaded not guilty.

Carulli is charged with attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

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