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FDNY, East Rockaway firefighter facing child porn charges

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A Lynbrook resident who volunteers for the East Rockaway Fire Department and is also a member of the FDNY appeared in Queens Criminal Court on Monday to face numerous felony charges for allegedly viewing child pornography while in an FDNY firehouse.

Michael Chojnacki, 53, was arrested on March 5 after a joint investigation by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad. He was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court the same day and charged with six counts of promoting the sexual performance of a child and six counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child — both felonies.

At Monday’s court appearance, it was determined that the proceedings would continue on Aug. 15. Chojnacki had previously appeared in court on April 13.

Garden City-based attorney Robert Gallo is representing Chojnacki. He did not answer requests for comment as of press time.

A FDNY spokesperson said that Chojnacki was suspended for 30 days without pay after his arrest and has since been assigned to an administrative position. East Rockaway Fire Chief Frank Passanisi made a statement on behalf of his department.

”The East Rockaway Fire Department has taken all necessary steps to protect the department, the residents, and the member in question in order to allow the legal system to take its course of action in this case,” Passanisi wrote in an email to the Herald.

According to the complaint document against Chojnacki, his alleged offenses happened on four specific dates in 2016 and 2017, and all involved a cyber tip submitted by a service when explicit images of children under 17 were uploaded.

The first tip was received from the chatroom website Chatstep and alerted investigators about a file depicting child sexual abuse being uploaded on June 12, 2016, at about 11:46 p.m. The image was of a nude girl between the ages of 8 and 10.

A second tip was received from Imgur, an image-sharing platform. It was uploaded on June 26, 2016, at about 3:53 p.m., and showed a partially nude girl between the ages of 9 and 11, according to the complaint.

The third tip was submitted by Yahoo after a specific email account uploaded three explicit images on Feb. 1, 2017, between 2:42 and 2:47 a.m. All girls in the photos were believed to be between ages 9 and 13, and two of the images depicted partially nude girls, while one showed two girls having sexual contact with an adult male.

The same user then uploaded another image from Yahoo on Feb. 16, 2017, at about 2:32 a.m. After an investigation, it was determined that the image showed a girl between the ages of 7 and 10 having sexual intercourse with an adult male.

After further investigation, the two IP addresses associated with the images traced back to FDNY Engine 266, on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Far Rockaway, Queens, where Chojnacki was employed. He was working at the firehouse during all dates and times listed by the cyber tips.

The complaint also said that Chojnacki was given his Miranda rights by police and then admitted that the email addresses were his, that he brings his laptop to work and uses it in common areas of the firehouse.