SAN JOSE -- A San Jose police detective assigned to the sex crimes unit is suspected of committing the same kind of violations he investigated, as prosecutors leveled charges that he solicited and received explicit photos from a juvenile girl he met online.
Tony Fregger, 33, who worked for the department's Sexual Assaults Investigation Unit from March 2010 to March of this year, turned himself in Thursday night, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
He is being charged with possessing sexually explicit photos of a minor and communicating with a minor for the purpose of obtaining sexually explicit photos. Both are felony charges that could result in time behind bars.
"When dealing with minors, there's a clear line of what's legal and what's illegal," said prosecutor David Ezgar, who works in the sexual assaults division of the District Attorney's Office. "Requesting illegal photos from someone under 18 crosses the line."
Fregger's attorney, Charles Smith, did not want to discuss the allegations against his client. Smith did say Fregger will plead not guilty at his next court appearance.
"Tony has been a great police officer," Smith said. "This is unfortunate it's happened. We'll have things to say in the court proceedings."
Ezgar said the crime is especially egregious given Fregger's assignment on the force.
"Mr. Fregger's job was investigating sex crimes involving minors; now he's being charged with committing one," he said. "He's facing felony charges for jumping over that line."
According to a statement of probable cause, Fregger first contacted the victim in 2010. On Jan. 26 of the following year, they had a Facebook exchange that revealed the minor's age.
"I'm 17 and my birthdays (sic) in February," she wrote, although her true age was 16.
According to the document, Fregger replied, "You' 17!? Oh man, I thought u were like 21! Lol!"
Prosecutors said Fregger "requested and received sexually explicit photographs of the teen from Jan. 26, 2011 through Feb. 20, 2011."
While details of what triggered the investigation were not available, Fregger's computer was seized May 10, and the explicit photographs were found in a folder bearing the victim's name.
Ezgar said Fregger was not currently involved with the victim. He said there is no indication that other juveniles may have been targeted.
San Jose police deferred comment to the District Attorney's Office.
Fregger, who was hired by the San Jose Police Department in 2005, has an address in San Jose. His bail was set at $75,000, and he will be arraigned July 22, Ezgar said.
"We expect better conduct from police officers -- we expect them to enforce the law, not break it," Ezgar said. "At the same time, San Jose police did an outstanding job of investigating and presenting this case."
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.