07/21/2013

Fla. cop charged with lewd conduct involving a minor

Sgt. Mario Pradere is alleged to have used his department-issued camera to make videos of a female younger than 16 at the time of the incidents

By Alexandra Seltzer and Lannis Waters
The Palm Beach Post

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Sheriff's sergeant arrested Thursday on allegations of lewd conduct involving a minor will have to post a $100,000 bond before he can be released, a judge ordered today.

Sheriff's Sgt. Mario Pradere is facing charges of lewd or lascivious conduct and video voyeurism. The 50-year-old Wellington resident is alleged to have used his department-issued camera to make videos of the minor, a female younger than 16 at the time of the incidents.

The sheriff's office has placed Pradere on administrative leave with pay. He's worked at the sheriff's office since 1991.

The sheriff's office conducted the investigation over the past month. Pradere, who worked for the Riviera Beach police department for about two years before joining the sheriff's office, most recently has been assigned to the Loxahatchee Groves area, sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

It was the second arrest within the past week of a law-enforcement officer with the sheriff's office. Deputy Anthony Schillace, 45, was arrested July 12 on a domestic battery charge after he allegedly got into an altercation at a Wellington restaurant with his estranged wife and her boyfriend. He has been charged with two counts of simple battery.

"We have over 4,000 employees and a certain percentage of them will make mistakes in life, some of them criminal," a sheriff's statement released after Pradere's arrest read. "It's a disappointment not tolerated by the sheriff or this department."

According to Pradere's arrest report, a teenage girl alleged that the sergeant massaged her feet while touching himself inappropriately. Pradere later admitted to fondling the girl's feet and went as far as to describe his problem as a "fetish," the probable-cause affidavit said. The girl also alleged that he secretly videotaped her in her bedroom while she was either dressing or disrobed.

The girl discovered Pradere's department-issued video camera had been sitting on a shelf in her bedroom after she heard it shut off when its battery went dead, the arrest report said. The girl alleged that she found the camera hidden there a second time as well and in a similar position to the first time.

An unidentified person later recorded a conversation with Pradere in which the sergeant allegedly "admitted he bit and kissed (the girl's) toes and it was a sexual thing," the affidavit said.

In a second recorded conversation, Pradere allegedly admitted taking pictures of the girl's feet and videotaping her naked. Pradere allegedly admitted storing the images on a disc but he said he had erased the disc and believed he had destroyed any copies of the images. In a note obtained by sheriff's investigators, Pradere denied either sexually assaulting or battering the minor, but acknowledged there had been some form of touching, the arrest report said.

"Once I started massaging her feet my fetish and sickness took over," Pradere allegedly wrote.

Staff researcher Michelle Quigley contributed to this story.

Copyright 2013 The Palm Beach Post 


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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