CHICAGO–A middle school teacher in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove, Illinois, was arrested early Thursday morning on federal charges for allegedly receiving child pornography and persuading a minor to produce pornographic images of himself.
John C. Vastis, aka “Pete,” 51, of Lakemoor, Illinois, which straddles Lake and McHenry counties, was arrested at his home Aug. 28 by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at the same time they executed a federal search warrant.
Vastis is a teacher at the Meridian Middle School in Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 in Buffalo Grove. There are no allegations of any sexual exploitation of any students. School district officials are cooperating with the investigation.
Vastis is charged with two counts of producing child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography. He appeared before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole and was ordered to remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 15, HSI agents and local police executed a state search warrant at the residence of a 17-year-old youth who was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography. The youth, identified as “Minor A,” told agents that he began communicating via Skype and text messages with an adult he identified as “Pete” when he was 16 years old in September 2013. Agents later identified “Pete” as Vastis, the charges allege.
Agents then analyzed data from Minor A’s computer and cell phone and recovered more than 3,200 lines of chat messages between Minor A and “Pete.” Excerpts of those chats are detailed in the complaint affidavit.
The sexual exploitation of a minor charges allege that on Jan. 18 and March 3, Vastis persuaded, induced, and enticed Minor A to produce pornographic images of himself and send them to Vastis. He was also charged with receiving a video containing child pornography July 13.
Each count of producing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison. Receiving child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years. Each count carries a $250,000 maximum fine.