Investigators make three arrests in undercover sting

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 17, 2015

 Mark Steven Astalos

Mark Steven Astalos

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MACOMB COUNTY — Three men were arrested recently during a series of undercover stings by the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement (MACE) team.

According to a report released by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, detectives assigned to MACE monitoring an undisclosed website on Dec. 7 narrowed in on an advertisement and began a conversation with a man who allegedly stated that he wanted to have sex with an underage girl.

The detective adopted a persona of the mother of a 14-year-old girl, and in a series of emails and text messages that followed, the man reportedly described himself as a single father. He reportedly sent graphic and detailed messages to the detective, including a photograph of himself dressed in a paramedic uniform.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the man was Mark Steven Astalos, 40, of Brownstown Township. Lt. John Michalke said his office did not initially release information as to where the man worked, as it was reported that Astalos had been employed with Detroit EMS at the time.

During their investigation, MACE detectives arranged to meet Astalos at a location in Harrison Township for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

At approximately 9 p.m. Dec. 9, Astalos arrived at the location, where he was arrested and transported to the Macomb County Jail.

Astalos was video-arraigned at 41-B District Court in Clinton Township on seven counts, including four counts of child sexually abusive activity, a 20-year felony; communicating with another through a computer to commit a crime; possession of child sexually abusive material; and using a computer to commit a crime.

He was given a $100,000 cash-or-surety bond and will be back in court on Dec. 23. He remained in the Macomb County Jail awaiting a court-appointed attorney at press time.

Also on Dec. 7, detectives connected with another man on an undisclosed website.

Michalke said the name of the site is not being released, as investigations into such activity are ongoing.

During the investigation that followed, the suspect allegedly expressed a willingness to engage in sexual relations with a child, the report states. The man reportedly sent numerous messages to a computer crimes detective who was also posing as the mother of a 14-year-old girl.

Detectives were able to determine that the 59-year-old man was a resident of Romance, Arkansas. However, he was staying and working in the Taylor/Southgate area.

The report states that an alleged agreement was made with the man to meet the undercover detective at a location in Harrison Township on the pretense that he would “meet with a woman and her daughter for a sexual encounter.”

Detectives said that on Dec. 8, the suspect allegedly sent numerous text messages to detectives as he traveled to the meeting spot, and he explained that he was driving a 2014 Dodge pickup truck. The suspect arrived at the location at 4 p.m., where detectives confronted him. He was arrested and taken to jail.

Larry Dean Privetts was video-arraigned in 41-B District Court on Dec. 9, at which time he was charged with one count of child sexually abusive activity and communicating with another through a computer to commit a crime. Both are 20-year felonies. Privetts was given a $100,000 personal bond and ordered to wear a tether before release. Michalke said Privetts was unable to pay for the tether.

He is due to appear in court again on Dec. 23 and is awaiting legal representation.

A few days later, sheriff’s officials reported that MACE investigators had arrested a third man seeking a sexual encounter with an underage girl.

The arrest report states that investigators responded to an online advertisement and began to converse with a 59-year-old Westland man.

Over a six-day period, the man reportedly sent emails and text messages to an undercover investigator posing as a juvenile girl. On the morning of Dec. 12, the suspect drove his 2001 Ford Explorer to a predetermined location on the pretense of having sexual relations with a juvenile. He was instead met by detectives, who placed him under arrest.

Kenneth David Rogers was video-arraigned in 41-B District Court on Dec. 14 and charged with three counts of child sexually abusive activity and one count of using a computer to commit a crime.

Rogers was given a $10,000 cash-or-surety bond and is due back in court on Dec. 28. No attorney information was available at press time.

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