Brattleboro photographer accused of producing child pornography

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BRATTLEBORO >> A local photographer stands accused of producing images of child sexual abuse.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Richard Emerich, who has lived on Western Avenue in Brattleboro since late 2014, took pictures of a sexual nature of underaged boys. According to the court documents, Emerich used his profession as a photographer to take the pictures, first for modeling purposes and then to produce images of child sexual abuse.

Emerich was originally identified through the assistance of a cooperating defendant in the State's Attorney's Office for Palm Beach County, in Florida. The defendant, who has not received any guarantees of preferential treatment for cooperating with prosecutors, has also been charged with pornography-related crimes. The defendant told prosecutors they worked as a talent scout and recruiter for "a New England-based photographer," who turned out to be Emerich. "The CD would book teenage boys to model for Emerich, who would fly to Florida from New England and take both non-nude and nude photographs of young boys."

Emerich, who owns and operates RWE Productions, a modeling and photography company in Brattleboro, was asked by the informant to send photographs of underage boys to Florida. Emerich responded by sending an external hard drive and thumb drive via the postal service. Included in the package were business cards from RWE Productions. Emerich's fingerprints were also found on the contents of the package. The hardware was found to contain images of child sexual abuse.

One of the victims was identified by police and he confirmed that he was paid by Emerich to model in the nude, beginning as early as 2007, when he was only 10 or 12 years old.

In April 2015, the cooperating defendant told investigators Emerich was planning to travel to Florida to photograph underage boys. In June, Emerich sent the CD another external hard drive, which contained "thousands of images of minor boys and age-indeterminate males," according to the court documents.

On Nov. 2, investigators served a search warrant on Emerich's Western Avenue home, during which time they discovered more than 50 external hard drives containing images of child sexual abuse. During the search, Emerich was read his Miranda Rights and though he was told he was free to leave at any time, discussed his activities with investigators. According to court documents, Emerich admitted to creating the images, to being sexually attracted to minors and to having had sexual contact with at least one minor boy. Emerich also admitted to sending the external hard drives to Florida.

Emerich's "day job," according to the documents, is with TestAmerica, an environmental testing company, which is owned by a hedge fund in Miami, but has offices across the United States, including in Brattleboro.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson said Emerich is being held pending a detention hearing. If the government's request for detention is approved by a federal judge, Emerich will then be transported to Florida to face the charges.

Masterson said because the investigation is ongoing, she couldn't comment on whether Emerich might have taken illegal pictures of children in southern Vermont. However, if a parent or guardian is concerned, they should contact her office at 802-951-6725.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.


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