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Local attorney arrested after reportedly attempting to meet New Jersey ‘teen’
Richard Parsons
Richard Parsons

A local personal injury attorney was among 21 individuals recently arrested  following a sting operation targeting child predators in New Jersey.

Attorney Richard Parsons, 42, of Cumming, was one of 21 arrested as part of Operation Risky Business, “a multi-agency undercover operation targeting individuals who allegedly were using social medial in an attempt to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity,” according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri’s office.  

“Not in Mercer. Not our children. Not under my watch. That’s the message we are sending to sexual predators with collaborative efforts like Operation Risky Business,” Onofri said in a news release. “Social media sites have become hunting grounds for individuals looking to exploit children. Law enforcement will continue to use every investigative tool at our disposal to aggressively pursue and prosecute these predators that attempt to exploit our most innocent victims, but we can’t do it alone. 

“Parents and guardians can do their part by remaining vigilant. Talk to your children about the dangers that exist on social media and gaming apps and monitor their online activity.”

Per the release, Parsons was charged with two counts of attempted endangering the welfare of a child and one count of attempted criminal sexual contact after allegedly attempting to contact a ‘14-year-old girl,’ which was really officers from the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

“The underage ‘children’ were, in fact, undercover officers,” the release said. “Most of the defendants in Operation Risky Business were arrested at either the undercover residence in Hamilton Township or another meet-up location, including the Hamilton Train Station. Those who went to the undercover house allegedly expected to find their victims home alone. Instead, they found law enforcement officers prepared to arrest them and process any evidence seized.”

According to the company’s website, Parsons is a founding attorney of Parsons Law Firm, located at 208 Pirkle Ferry Road, Ste B, and has worked as a personal injury attorney for more than a decade.

Officials with the law firm declined to comment on the arrest.

Onofri’s office is prosecuting the case.

According to the news release, about half of the arrested happened between April 7 and 10 when the suspects reportedly tried to meet the victims in a house “staffed with dozens of law enforcement officers, analysts and attorneys,” and warrants for the others were sent to the U.S. Marshals Service, who tracked down the other suspects.

Those arrested in the sting allegedly “typically initiated contact based on profiles posted on social media platforms by the undercover detectives and agents” and clearly identified themselves as underage,

“Despite that information, the defendants allegedly engaged the purported ‘children’ in conversations about sex, and all 21 defendants are alleged to have made arrangements to meet the ‘children’ for sex,” the release said. “Some of the chats were conducted over a period of several weeks leading up to the ‘meet-up’ week when arrests were made.

“Operation Risky Business is a great example of how successful law enforcement agencies can be when they collaborate across all levels like they did here by proactively investigating and arresting predators who sought to sexually exploit children,” said Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “We are committed to working collaboratively in order to aggressively investigate and prosecute sex offenders. But we also need parents to talk to their children about the dangers of social media and let them know not everyone who they encounter online is who they initially claim to be.”