The leader in the Atlantic County recovery community with remain jailed on a child luring charge.
Robert Catalano Jr., 58, is accused of setting up a sexual encounter with a teenage boy at his Atlantic City home.
The boy was actually an adult working with Colorado Ped Patrol, a YouTube channel hunts child predators online.
They were one of three groups who visited the area a week ago targeting child predators.
Catalano’s defense attorney argued entrapment, saying that when Catalano learned the person he was talking to was 14, he said the boy was too young and suggested he reach out in a few years.
“This is an unfortunate incident where Mr. Catalano fell into a trap that was laid for him,” defense attorney Omar Aguilar said.
“Although it may have been a trap, your client did make arrangements for this 14 year old to come to his house at the very least for a massage,” Superior Judge John Rauh said.
There was also a discussion of a happy ending, although Aguilar said that was mentioned by the “boy” and not his client.
Whether that would have happened, “we’ll never know because it never happened.”
Catalano’s criminal history consists mainly of disorderly persons offense, including a shoplifting charge that resulted in a failure to appear. He does have a third-degree weapons offense from 25 years ago, according to what was mentioned in court.
The public safety assessment put him high on failure to appear and likelihood to reoffend, with 5 out of 6 for both.
It also recommended Catalano be released with conditions, including an ankle bracelet.
But Rauh said there was no way to make sure Catalano had no internet access and couldn’t repeat his alleged crime.
The judge also noted Catalano himself admitted to an untreated sexual addiction for which he believes he cannot control and needs help. Catalano told police it was not related to children.