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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Scranton Man Charged With Sex Trafficking Of A Minor

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Scranton resident was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday for sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor.

     According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Sean Cantelmo, age 28, allegedly conspired with others to coerce a minor female to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual activity during February through May 2014.

     The indictment alleges that the defendant used a cell phone to post advertisements for “escort services” involving the minor female on a website and rented motel rooms in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties to facilitate the prostitution activities.

     Cantelmo is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking of Children by Force and Coercion and Sex Trafficking of Children by Force and Coercion. 

     Cantelmo was taken into custody yesterday and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick at the Federal Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre later today.

     The charges stem from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Pennsylvania State Police.

     The sex trafficking of children by force and coercion and conspiracy charges are each punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

     This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab "resources."

     The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 9, 2015