NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio - The FOX 8 I TEAM has obtained exclusive video of a suspected predator arrested in a massive Northeast Ohio sex sting, and we tracked him down for an explanation about why he was there.
The sting led to the arrest of 22 men in 4 days suspected of trying to meet kids ages 12-15 for sex. The operation involved local, state, and federal agencies led by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, and Newburgh Heights Police. They called it Operation Memorial Dazed, and they carried it out just after the holiday.
One of the men arrested is Nanda Poudel. Police video shows Newburgh Heights. Police and federal agents taking him into custody outside a spot set up where suspects expected to meet the minors for sex. The video shows officers talking to Poudel for a moment in his car, and then they can be seen leading him away.
The I TEAM met Poudel’s wife, and she called him on the phone for us. He claims he went to help a child in danger after texting back and forth, but he denies meeting for sex. Poudel said, “When I see the person texting is 15 years old, so that's underage. So, I was trying help out. I mean, I wasn't there for any other stuff... just trying to uh rescue, but there was a kind of trap…. That's what happened."
David Frattare of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said, "Over the course of this 4-day operation these offenders were arrested at the rate of one every 45 minutes."
Investigators say the suspects had explicit conversations about sex with undercover officers thinking they were talking to juveniles.
Three of the suspects are already convicted sex offenders for crime involving juveniles.
Everyone busted went to a meeting spot, actually an empty apartment building in Newburgh Heights. In one room, investigators chatted on the computer with the suspects. Another room had been set up online as the meeting place. Inside and outside, police waited to jump out for the arrest.
Newburgh Heights. Police Chief John Majoy said, "We were contacted back in the fall of 2017 about setting up a sting house. And we're proud of the impact to society to get these offenders off the streets."
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O’Malley said his office has indicted all of the suspects. They face sex charges and more. They could go to prison and get labelled a sex offender. The men show addresses mostly from NE Ohio. One man had a Texas address, but we’re told he had been staying in the area.
Assistant Prosecutor Carl Sullivan said the suspects first started talking about sex. He said, "They were the ones that brought up what they intended to do with the child."
Nonetheless, Nanda Poudel’s wife is standing by him. He’s standing by his story. He added this when talking about the girl he expected to meet, "I was out there trying to take her to a police station, somewhere, so they could get a rescue."
Now he’ll have to explain that to a judge.