A middle school teacher in a northwest Illinois suburb was arrested Tuesday on the first day of school in a federal child pornography bust.
John Vastis, 51 — a teacher at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove — allegedly coaxed a 16-year-old boy into taking pornographic pictures of himself and sending them to him over the Internet.
The boy was not a student of Vastis’s, and prosecutors say there are no allegations that he sexually exploited any students.
Wearing an inside out t-shirt and flip flops, a stunned-looking Vastis, of Lakemoor, was warned in U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole’s courtroom Thursday morning that he faces a minimum of 15 years behind bars if convicted.
He was ordered held in custody at least until a detention hearing Tuesday.
Known as “Pete,” Vastis allegedly met his now 17-year-old accuser a year ago on Skype. Computer records show he had more than 3,200 lines of chat messages with the boy, who was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography, a criminal complaint alleges.
The boy identified Vastis after the feds raided the boy’s home on Aug. 15, the complaint states.
Charged with the sexual exploitation of a minor, Vastis allegedly twice persuaded the boy on Jan. 18 and March 3 to produce pornographic images of himself and send them to Vastis. Vastis is also charged with receiving a video containing child pornography on July 13.
The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
It’s not immediately clear if Vastis has an attorney.