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What you need to know for 10/23/2017

Police: Underage sex sting nabs school bus driver, DJ

Police: Underage sex sting nabs school bus driver, DJ

Police: Men thought they were setting up sexual encounters with girls ages 9-14
Police: Underage sex sting nabs school bus driver, DJ
Frank L. Gunther (left), 61, of Mechanicville, and Timothy Celeste, 49, of Glens Falls.
Photographer: Provided

GLENS FALLS -- An underage sex sting operation by police netted a dozen arrests late last week, including a Saratoga County bus driver and a Glens Falls radio DJ.

The sweep also resulted in the arrests of two Schenectady men and a man from Saratoga Springs.

Operation Spider Byte was a joint effort of Warren County Sheriff's Office, state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It culminated between Wednesday and Friday of last week with the arrests of men who were using social media to entice minors to engage in sex acts, police said.

Each of the 12 is charged with soliciting sex acts involving girls they believed ranged in age from 9 to 14, police said. 

Among those arrested were Frank L. Gunther, 61, of Mechanicville, and Timothy Celeste, 49, of Glens Falls.

Officials identified Gunther as a school bus driver for the Mechanicville Central School District and Celeste as a DJ for the radio station Q101.7 in Glens Falls.

Gunther faces one count of attempted criminal sexual act, a felony. The charge against Celeste wasn't clear.

Mechanicville Central School District Superintendent Michael McCarthy issued a statement Monday afternoon referencing a "substitute bus driver previously employed by us." 

The statement did not indicate when Gunther left the school's payroll but noted the arrest did not involve his employment with the district or students.

"The District always fully cooperates with the police and district attorney in any investigation involving a matter that can potentially involve the School District and its students," school officials said in the prepared statement. "The District always has as its top priority the safety and welfare of our students."

General manager Tom Jacobsen at Q101.7, a classic hits station, would not comment Monday when contacted about Celeste's arrest. The station's website did not list Celeste as a DJ as of late Monday afternoon.

Also arrested in the sting, were:

  • Thomas G. Abrams, 52, of Wappingers, identified as a captain of Westchester County Corrections, charge unavailable.
  • Jose Roberto Zapata-Cruz, 32, of 1071 Wendell Ave., Schenectady, charged with one count of second-degree attempted rape.
  • Adam S. Hiedman, 32, of Schenectady, charge unavailable.
  • Thomas J. Clancy III, 21, of 2 Conford Drive, Saratoga Springs, charged with one count of second-degree attempted rape.
  • Mark D. Hodges, 63, of 1112 New Louden Road, Latham, charged with first-degree attempted rape, third-degree attempted aggravated sexual abuse and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
  • Gerald F. Harrington III, 36, of 30 Lupine Lane, Queensbury, charged with second-degree attempted rape.
  • Roger P. Whiting III, 43, of 29 Mallory Lane, Queensbury, charged with second-degree attempted rape.
  • Paul R. Wilson, 31, of 36 Ethan Allen St., Fort Edward, charged with second-degree attempted criminal sexual act.
  • William K. O'Connell, 46, of Fort Edward, charge unavailable.
  • Peter J. Fava, 41, of Halifax, Massachusetts, charge unavailable.
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