Nine men, including a first-grade teacher, former animal control officer, Disney workers and a Publix worker have been arrested as part of a Polk County child pornography investigation.
- 9 suspects face variety of child porn charges
- Animal control officer, school teacher among suspects
- Arrests part of 'Operation Child Shield 3'
Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests at a news conference Thursday. Search warrants were executed at several homes in the county, the Sheriff's Office said in an operation it called "Operation Child Shield 3."
Juan Berrios, 64, of Kissimmee, was arrested after authorities seized computers from his home. Berrios, a first-grade teacher at Palmetto Elementary School in Poinciana, was charged with 35 counts of possession of child pornography, authorities said. Deputies said the child porn depicted children as young as just a few months old.
“He confessed. He talked to us, and what he told us was gut-wrenching,” Judd said. “He said he doesn't believe the children are victims because they're not forced to do this. And then he said they seem to enjoy it. He suspects a lot of times, they're paid for it. Are you kidding me? You really said that?”
Berrios has been suspended without pay. Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd is recommending his employment be terminated at the next school board meeting.
"This disgusts me,” Byrd said. “By no means will we allow this to continue in our school system. By no means. Mr. Berrios does not represent the teachers here who dedicate their lives every day to Polk County Public Schools.
Neighbors of Berrios were shocked at the news.
"It really is startling,” Rosangela Diaz said. “It worries me a lot to know a person can be so close and in contact with small children, yet have a little dark secret, a double life."
As part of the sting, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer was also arrested. Siul Pastor, 31, resigned from his job after his arrest. Judd said at one point, the deputy applied to be part of the children's investigations unit but was not chosen for the job.
Kevin Nazzaro, 52, a cook at Big River Grille and Brewing Works at Disney's Boardwalk, was also arrested as part of the sting on charges of possessing child porn depicting children between the ages of 8 and 11.
Robert "Gary" Willis
Robert "Gary" Willis, 70, of Davenport, was charged with 36 counts of promotion of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography. His arrest followed the execution of a search warrant at his home. Willis told detectives he is a retired electrical engineer from Lockheed Martin, and he is married.
Thursk Seepersad, 27, faces four counts of possession of child pornography after his Lakeland home was searched and computer equipment seized. Seepersad told detectives he is unemployed but was in the Navy from 2006-2011.
Guillermo "Will" Torres III
Guillermo "Will" Torres III of Lakeland was charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography. The Sheriff's Office said 100 files depicting child pornography were found, with the youngest child victim about 18 months old. Torres told detectives he works at Publix in the bakery warehouse.
Angel Rivera-Maldonado, 44, faces 60 counts of child pornography charges after his home was searched in Auburndale. The youngest child victim in his case, according to the Sheriff's Office, was about 1 year old. Maldonado told detectives he works in housekeeping at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Authorities said Terry Drawdy, 46, of Lakeland, was having sexual conversations on Facebook with a 15-year-old Ohio girl. Drawdy was sent nude photos of the girl, according to investigators. He was charged with one count each of possession of child pornography, use of computer to seduce a child and two-way communication device to commit felony.
James Ballone, 53, of Bartow, was charged with 65 counts of possession of child pornography after a search of his home and seizure of computer equipment. Ballone told detectives he owns J&K Cleaning Service.