DA: Southold man charged with possession of child pornography

A Southold man has been charged with 50 counts of possession of child pornography, after authorities said they found a hard drive containing video and images of the sex abuse of children as young as 18 months old.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said his office began looking into James Gaffga, 36, after receiving a tip from the public — which prompted an investigation that included the FBI, Suffolk County Police and Southold Town Police.  

Between late November and mid-December 2022, Mr. Gaffga allegedly downloaded from the internet both images and video of children between the ages of 18 months and 10 years old being abused.  

Mr. Gaffga was arraigned Friday, Mr. Tierney said in the press release, and released under the supervision of the probation department with a GPS monitor attached to his ankle. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 19.

If convicted, Mr. Gaffga could face one and a third to four years in prison on each count. His attorney, Steven Politi, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Mr. Gaffga worked for much of his life at the Southold IGA, said manager Kevin Grattan.

“He started here when he was in high school and worked on and off through college” before leaving the job about a year ago, Mr. Grattan said. “He was supposedly moving to Virginia.”

Mr. Grattan said employees at IGA were “definitely” surprised to hear the news of their former colleague’s arrest.

“We never saw that coming. He was just an employee here.”  

Mr. Tierney urged “anyone who is aware that child pornography is being produced, downloaded, or traded, to contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office immediately. Law enforcement is fully committed to holding individuals who contribute to the sexual exploitation of innocent children accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

In February 2021, longtime Southold Town building department employee and one time Democratic candidate for supervisor Damon Rallis was arrested on a federal charge of distributing child pornography.

According to court documents, Mr. Rallis became the subject of an investigation by the FBI after he engaged with an undercover agent in an “invite-only” group chat on the social media platform Kik in 2020, according to the complaint filed in federal court. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, and his case is ongoing.