A longtime Southold Town employee and former Democratic candidate for supervisor was arrested on a federal child pornography charge Tuesday morning, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District Court of New York.
Damon Rallis, 46, of Southold was charged with distribution of child pornography, the complaint states.
Mr. Rallis, who is a scoutmaster in Greenport, became the subject of an investigation by the FBI after he engaged last April with an undercover agent in an “invite-only” group chat on the social media platform Kik, according to the complaint filed in federal court Tuesday. Two days after that initial chat, Mr. Rallis, using the screen name “dirtydaddy431” shared a one-minute video of a woman performing sex acts on a male toddler and a photograph of a toddler in a sexually explicit pose alongside a nude female.
During an FBI raid of Mr. Rallis’ home Tuesday morning, he admitted to law enforcement that he had viewed child pornography and that he had posted the media referenced in the criminal complaint, according to a sworn affidavit from a special agent with the FBI. Mr. Rallis told investigators he had viewed child pornography as recently as the day before and that he would delete images after viewing them, according to the complaint.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Scotti said at an arraignment Tuesday that during the raid on his home, a hidden camera was found that Mr. Rallis admitted was his. While Mr. Scotti said investigators are still processing the footage, he said it contained images from within Mr. Rallis’ home, including video shot with the camera pointed at a toilet people would use. Mr. Scotti said the hidden camera footage reviewed prior to the arraignment did not include depictions of children.
Mr. Rallis is facing a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison if convicted on the current charge, according to Mr. Scotti. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields set bond at $200,000 with Mr. Rallis and his wife, Joanna, agreeing to put up their home to assure his conditional release. He will be subject to monitoring that will prevent him from using a computer, leaving his home or having contact with children. Judge Shields made clear that Mr. Rallis is not to participate in scouting and said she will determine at a later court appearance if he can return to work or see his own children.
During the court appearance, Ms. Rallis said “all of this is insane to me,” though she agreed to support her husband during his pretrial release.
Investigators traced a computer used to distribute images of child pornography to an IP address registered to an Optimum/Altice account that was leased to Mr. Rallis, according to the complaint. He was represented in court by assistant federal defender LaKeytria Felder.
Mr. Rallis, a town building permits examiner, was formerly the vice chair of the Southold Town Democratic Committee, a position he resigned from in September 2019 following backlash from a pair of small business owners after he called for locals to boycott establishments that support Republican candidates for office. Mr. Rallis was also the Democratic nominee for town supervisor in 2015.
Southold Town Democratic Committee Chair Kathryn Casey Quigley said Tuesday that she was “blindsided, sickened and horrified” by the news of Mr. Rallis’ arrest, which she learned of through a reporter’s inquiry.
“Almost two years ago, the Southold Town Democratic Committee demanded Mr. Rallis’ resignation due to an unrelated matter,” Ms. Casey Quigley said in a statement. “He has not been involved with the party since then.”
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Mr. Rallis has been suspended from his job.
“We are shocked and disgusted by the allegations,” the supervisor said. “The employee was suspended pending an investigation by the town.”
Boy Scouts of America Suffolk County Council CEO Ryan DiBernardo said in a statement that Mr. Rallis has been removed from Scouting.
“This individual’s behavior is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” his statement said. “While the arrest appears to be unrelated to Scouting, this individual has been removed from Scouting and prohibited from any future participation in our programs. We will continue to cooperate fully with federal and local law enforcement as they investigate this matter.”