A former New York City police officer was indicted in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday on charges of coercing a boy to engage in sex and soliciting explicit sexual conversations and nude photographs from boys.
The former officer, Christopher Terranova, 34, met one of his victims by using a Police Department database to obtain the boy’s cellphone number, according to a document filed in court by federal prosecutors.
Mr. Terranova could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on all counts, which include three charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one of coercion and enticement of a minor.
He was ordered to remain jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn until his next court appearance in January, said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The officer was suspended with pay and retired in September, according to a Police Department spokesman. Vinoo Varghese, Mr. Terranova’s attorney, said his client denied all charges.
“He looks forward to clearing his name,” Mr. Varghese said.
The case began when Mr. Terranova was arrested in May on Staten Island, where he was an officer assigned to the 121st Precinct, in the Graniteville neighborhood. Mr. Terranova used police records to find the personal phone number of a 15-year-old boy who was the victim of a robbery, federal prosecutors said. He sent the boy explicit pictures of himself and pressured the minor to reciprocate, according to a request to deny bail filed Thursday by the prosecutor’s office.
Mr. Terranova knew another victim as a family friend, the prosecutor’s office said. He contacted the boy on social media in 2022, sent nude photos and engaged in sexual conversations, according to prosecutors. Mr. Terranova later drove the boy to a wooded area and engaged in sex acts, according to the detention request.
A search of Mr. Terranova’s home on Staten Island uncovered letters he had sent to another person, who appeared to be a minor living in another state, prosecutors said. Mr. Terranova purchased a home close to the minor’s house and kept notes in his personal safe on the child’s likes, dislikes, family and religion, according to prosecutors. Additional searches uncovered possible evidence of several other victims, prosecutors said, including an instance in which Mr. Terranova might have approached a teenager who was hospitalized during a mental health crisis.
The charges against Mr. Terranova do not include any related to the possible victim in another state or the one who was hospitalized. These details were described in the document in which prosecutors argued that Mr. Terranova should not be allowed bail.
The judge did not rule on the question of bail.
After his arrest in May, Mr. Terranova was charged in state court by the Richmond County district attorney’s office on Staten Island. He was freed on bail and then arrested again on additional state charges in July, The New York Daily News reported.
At 6 a.m. Thursday, federal agents arrived at the home on Staten Island where Mr. Terranova lives with his mother and stepfather, Mr. Varghese said. Mr. Terranova was 20 minutes away at the time, working at a business owned by his family. He drove home to meet the agents and was arrested.
Mr. Terranova’s next appearance in federal court is scheduled for Jan. 10.