What to Know
- Carmelo Montanez pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to engage in indecent liberties with a child.
- Tax and court records showed Montanez was an active member of the Damascus Soccer Club in Maryland.
- League officials said they were not aware that Montanez had been arrested because his yearly background check had already occurred.
A longtime federal government computer specialist admitted using his computer to attempt to lure a child for sex.
Federal records obtained by News4 show former National Institute of Standards and Technology employee Carmelo Montanez pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to engage in indecent liberties with a child and began serving a two-year jail sentence earlier this month.
Montanez was arrested by Fairfax County police after attempting to lure what he believed to be a 12-year-old boy to leave Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax to engage in sexual activities. The person he thought he was soliciting was instead an undercover Fairfax police officer.
Records obtained by News4 show Montanez also was active in youth soccer in Montgomery County in recent years, though police said their investigation did not reveal evidence Montanez engaged in illegal activity prior to his arrest in Fairfax County in late 2014.
Investigations by the Fairfax County Police Department and the U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General reveal how Montanez sought to solicit a young boy. Montanez spotted an online advertisement, then engaged in a series of text messages and emails with the advertisement’s poster, whom he believed to be a boy, according to investigators’ reports. Montanez tried to set up a rendezvous at a park near Robinson Secondary School, the investigators’ reports said. Montanez brought an open bottle of red wine and a video game, the reports said. Montanez drank one glass of the wine “to calm his nerves,” according to the federal investigation.
Fairfax County Police Lt. James Bacon, a supervisor of the agency’s child exploitation unit, said Montanez was surprised when police arrived at the park.
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“He was disappointed when he found out it wasn’t a 12- or 13-year-old boy he was going to meet here,” Bacon said. “It was us.”
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General revealed “numerous adult pornographic images” were found on Montanez’s two work laptop computers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But the investigation found no evidence of child pornography.
Tax records and court records reviewed by News4 showed Montanez was an active member of the Damascus Soccer Club in Maryland, once serving on the group’s board of directors.
Montanez kept coaching soccer for the Soccer Association of Montgomery (SAM) after the arrest, and a league official told News4 they were unaware Montanez was ever arrested until News4's report Thursday night.
“We are grateful that Fairfax County arrested Mr. Montanez, but we are concerned that we are only now finding out about this case," read a statement from SAM Soccer. "This illustrates the need for closer cooperation and information sharing by law enforcement at all levels to ensure the safety of youth players.”
“There was a full investigation of Mr. Montanez and his computers, and there were zero ties to youth soccer or youth soccer activity,” said Peter Greenspun, Montanez’s defense attorney.
Fairfax County police said their investigation produced no other evidence of other illegal activity by Montanez.
Damascus Soccer Club provided the following statement:
"We are shocked and saddened by the actions of Mr. Montanez. Everyone serving our youth, regardless of the sport or the organization, is committed to the safety of our kids as a first priority.
“Though Mr. Montanez left our Club in August of 2014 - before he committed this crime - and we are aware of no evidence that he has assaulted any child during his time with our Club, he is well known in the greater soccer and school community as both a coach and a referee. His actions will serve as a painful reminder to all that our safety protocols are in place for a reason.”
Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice is asking Montgomery County soccer leagues to upgrade background checks for volunteers and coaches. Rice said he'll ask Montgomery County Police to review the Montanez case to ensure none of the soccer players was victimized.
Montgomery County Police does not comment on whether it has opened criminal investigations.
Late Friday afternoon, the Soccer Association of Montgomery said it is ordering more frequent background checks of coaches to ensure a "positive, safe environment."
On Facebook Friday, the Damascus Soccer Club's president alerted parents about what News4 found and urged parents with any information to call police.
A spokeswoman for the National Institute of Standards and Technology said Montanez resigned his job with the agency in August.
“While the (Inspector General) investigation found evidence of adult pornography on the former employee’s NIST computers, the (Inspector General’s) memorandum does not conclude that those computers were used in the commission of the felonies,” the spokeswoman said.