A Queens church deacon should spend 30 years in federal prison after seducing three teens he met online into having sex with him, federal prosecutors say.
Rogelio Vega, 52, will be sentenced Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court after pleading guilty to three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual conduct last September.
Vega was a deacon at San Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Woodside. He was outed as a sexual predator in January 2021 when he was caught in a sting operation trying to convince a detective who believed he was a 14-year-old boy to have oral sex with him.
Vega, of Maspeth, communicated with the undercover cop through the dating site Grindr, exchanging sexually explicit messages for months and sending him photos of his genitals.
They set up a meeting in Queens, and when the officer, who looked like a little boy, got into his car, Vega said he liked “top and oral,” then grabbed and massaged the inside of the officer’s left thigh, according to the feds.
He pleaded guilty in Queens court in October 2021 and was sentenced to 10 years probation and registered as a sex offender.
However, on the day of his guilty plea, the feds swooped in and indicted him on new charges. The cell phone seized from him showed evidence that he communicated with several other victims.
“He would chat with his victims about school, homework and after-school jobs while asking for nude photos and videos and sexual encounters,” Assistant US Attorney Patrick Campbell said in a sentencing memorandum filed March 8.
“When his victims finished their school day and extracurricular work or left their homes and families, the defendant arranged to engage in sexual acts with them in nearby neighborhoods or hotels.”
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The feds identify three underage victims of “John Doe,” including a 15-year-old boy he met on Grindr. Investigators found other potential victims on her phone, but were unable to identify them or determine if they were under the age of consent, the memo says.
“He was a practical criminal who would meet his victims in his car, often picking them up near their homes or schools, and take them to motels to engage in sexual acts,” Campbell wrote. “One of his victims described him as ‘aggressive’ for wanting to engage in sexual acts and described how the defendant offered money and drugs to encourage the victim to agree to penetrative sex.”
The 15-year-old boy said Vega tried to pressure him into having sex by offering him between $50 and $100 and nitrite “poppers,” a psychoactive chemical drug, the feds said.
He told another victim, who met him for sex multiple times in his vehicle, not to tell anyone because “they could get arrested,” the feds said.
“For the defendant, this was not a single crime with a single victim,” Campbell wrote. “Defendant engaged in a pattern of targeting vulnerable adolescents while he was living a double life as a deacon who was allegedly committed to the mission of helping vulnerable people.”
Vega’s defense attorney’s sentencing memorandum has been sealed by the court. His attorney, James Darrow, declined to comment.
Vega remains locked up in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center pending sentencing before Judge Eric Komitee.