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Feds "Apologize" For Mistaking Buffalo Man For Kiddie Porn Suspect | News

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Feds "Apologize" For Mistaking Buffalo Man For Kiddie Porn Suspect
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BUFFALO, NY - John Luchetti, 25, remains held without bail after being charged in US District Court with downloading child pornography on his computer.

What distinguishes his case, however, is what happened in the early morning hours of March 7 when federal agents, seeking to arrest Luchetti, instead took down a man who lived around the corner from him in Buffalo's Symphony Circle neighborhood.

A friend of the man whose home agents entered (who is not being named to protect his identity) agreed to tell 2 On Your Side what his friend relayed to him about the incident, but also under the condition of anonymity.

"He told me they kicked the door down and drew their guns... they tackled him and were very aggressive and accusatory. He told me they stuck their guns in his face, and they just scared the living daylights out of him to be honest with you."

Though never arrested, the man was temporarily detained and had his computer and other personal belongings confiscated according to his attorney Barry Covert, who said ten days later the government had yet to offer to pay for the door its agents broke down.

Within hours of the errant raid agents realized Covert's client was not their suspect and, according to court papers, now believe Luchetti had tapped into his neighbor's wi-fi connection.

"It could absolutely happen to anyone if they're not careful," said Kevin Kelly, President of i-Evolve Technology Services, an Amherst based computer security firm. "Anything can be broken into if somebody really wants to get in, but the more difficult you make it the less somebody is going to try," Kelly said.

Kelly also said it's relatively easy to take steps to protect your wireless internet system.

"Most wireless devices have security built into them...the instruction manual will show you how to set it up. Most people who can navigate a computer can set it up themselves, but there's usually an 800 number for the manufacturer of the device who can walk you through and get it secure in your home," Kelly said.

But despite the relative ease of securing a wireless system, Kelly said there are plenty of people who don't.

"There are still a lot of people out there who get the wireless router, pull it out of the box, plug it in and turn it on, ...and never put any security on it at all. It's a big mistake," Kelly said, and for reasons beyond the off chance that police will break down your door in a case of mistaken identity.

"Certainly there's identity theft, or stealing files off your computer, or just basically breaking into your personal information because once they're inside your wireless network they pretty much have access to anything you do inside. It's the same reason we lock the doors on our homes...wi-fi is an open pathway into your home and business if it's not secure," he said.

Meanwhile, the friend of the man who was falsely targeted in the March 7th raid says his friend is still terribly shaken by the ordeal.

"I mean, how scary would that be, for anybody...for even a guilty party? It would scare the living daylights out you. And now I think he's kind of angry ....he's still (physically) sore from being dragged down the stairs and he feels like he was treated harshly for something he didn't do."

Situations like those involving his friend, while rare, are not unheard of. NBC Nightly News recently profiled another case involving an attorney and former CIA agent who was falsely accused of participating in child pornography after someone hacked into his wi-fi.

Late today the US Attorney for the Western District of New York issued a statement in conjunction with the Buffalo Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) whose agents conducted the errant raid.

"This case serves as a warning to all users of wireless internet service. Ensure your system is password protected - there are those who may breach your privacy and use your service for criminal purposes. Such usage may in turn cause well-intentioned law enforcement officers to follow the trail of evidence of that crime right into your home.
 The United States Attorney's Office and HSI are sorry that the owner of the wireless system used in this case, who had nothing to do with the crime, was swept up into this investigation. In the meantime, be aware that we will do everything we can to both protect the public, and ensure that those who use computers to commit crime are brought to justice."

Click on then video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher. 

Click here to read Dave McKinley's latest blog.

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