NEW YORK (AP) – If a recent Long Island case is any sign, some parts of the Internet may be more crowded with undercover cops than alleged sexual predators.

Thomas Sheehan, a 46-year-old Queens attorney, has been charged with using the Web to try to seduce two people he allegedly thought were teenage girls.

Both turned out to be adult detectives – one from the New York City police department and one from Nassau County, law-enforcement officials said. Unbeknownst to each other, the two investigators had simultaneously been corresponding with Sheehan in Internet chat rooms while posing as children, the officials said.

Nassau prosecutors said that over the past two months one of their investigators, who had assumed the identity of a 14-year-old girl, received graphic messages from Sheehan that included talk of meeting to have sex.

At the same time, New York police were setting a trap of their own. Undercover detectives there had also struck up a correspondence with Sheehan, and arrested him on Oct. 18 after what was supposed to have been an encounter with a teenage girl.

Sheehan was charged in Manhattan with attempting to commit a criminal sexual act. Nassau County’s district attorney said on Friday that Sheehan faces an additional charge there of attempting to disseminate indecent material to minors.

“We have again successfully intercepted a would-be predator before he was able to make contact with a vulnerable minor,” Nassau District Attorney Denis Dillon said in a written statement.

Sheehan is currently free on bail, according to the statement. The statement did not say whether Sheehan had been arrested or arraigned on the Nassau County charge and a phone at the district attorney’s office went unanswered.

A woman who answered the telephone at what prosecutors said was Sheehan’s home in East Setauket said he wasn’t there and wouldn’t be available. No one answered the phone Saturday at Sheehan’s law office.

AP-ES-10-29-05 1702EDT


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