GENESEE COUNTY, MI — A sheriff’s deputy was among those caught in the most recent sex-trafficking sting by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office GHOST operation.
Benjamin Reinhart, 24, was arrested and fired from his position over the weekend after he allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl online, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said during his weekly news briefing on Wednesday, April 28.
Reinhart was caught during a two-day Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team, or GHOST, operation running from Saturday, April 24 to Sunday, April 25, Swanson said.
Reinhardt allegedly sent 446 messages to the undercover officer he believed was a 15-year-old, 118 messages and six pictures of which he sent while on duty, Swanson said.
When Reinhart was asked to meet the decoy, he didn’t show up, Swanson said.
But Swanson said he allegedly did send “graphic pictures” and “almost demand” the decoy to send pictures of them self in return.
“At any point, that deputy could have turned that case over to a supervisor,” Swanson said. “At any point, that deputy could have done what GHOST does. And stand here before you to accept responsibility for what happened when he was on duty and to show you and warn people that it happens everywhere.”
Reinhart was arraigned Monday, April 26 on charges of child sexually abusive activity, computer internet communications with another to commit a crime, children accosting for immoral purposes and common law offenses for misconduct in office, according to Genesee County District Court records.
He was hired at the sheriff’s department in July 2019, Swanson said.
People have heard of “the blue wall of silence,” Swanson said.
He said that wall does not exist in the sheriff’s office “because we did arrest our own.”
“This is embarrassing for us, but there’s a higher standard that we have that covers the embarrassment and shows just how professional this organization is and those that serve,” Swanson said.
Two other suspects were arrested during the same operation and face multiple charges.
Since 2018 when GHOST started, Swanson said 104 suspects have been arrested.
“Predators beware,” Swanson said. “GHOST is watching.”
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