By DAVID PORTER
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A tearful former New York City radio personality made his first appearance in federal court Wednesday, five weeks after he was arrested in the U.S. Virgin Islands and charged with trying to arrange to have sex with a 7-year-old girl.
|Mzee David Herman (77)|
David Herman didn't enter a plea before U.S. Magistrate Mark Falk and will remain jailed pending a hearing to determine whether he will be released on bail while he awaits trial. Herman was caught in a sting operation, and his attorney said investigators pushed his client into implicating himself.
Herman believed he was communicating with a 36-year-old single mother with a young daughter, and tried in multiple telephone and online conversations to arrange illegal sexual encounters with the child in New York and New Jersey, investigators said. At one point he allegedly indicated he wanted to fly the pair to St. Croix so he could engage in sexual activity with the child there. The woman was actually an undercover officer employed by Bergen County, and the child was fictional.
Herman purchased airline tickets for the pair to fly from LaGuardia airport to St. Croix, according to prosecutors. He arrived at the airport on Oct. 24 to pick them up, according to the U.S. attorney's office, but was instead arrested by special agents of U.S. Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Herman's attorney, Marc Agnifilo, said Herman only engaged in banter about the child because he was interested in the 36-year-old, and that the woman, not Herman, initiated conversations about the child.
"There was an attempt by the investigator to get him to say things on tape to implicate himself," he said.
Herman was a well-known disc jockey at FM radio station WNEW in New York. Agnifilo said Herman suffers from emphysema and before his arrest was "just happy that a 36-year-old woman wanted to come to St. Croix to see him."
He acknowledged the undercover officer came across Herman in a chat room "that dealt mostly with incest."
Herman has been in custody since his arrest and arrived in New Jersey on Tuesday, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The 77-year-old walked into court in handcuffs and yellow prison garb. He spoke during the hearing only to say that he understood his rights, and he appeared to be crying when he looked out into the gallery.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco Navarro told the judge Wednesday that the government would oppose bail and called Herman "a severe danger to the community."
Herman is charged with attempting to transport a minor in interstate commerce with the intent of engaging in illegal sexual activity. If convicted, he could face life in prison and would have to serve a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence, a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman said.