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A current and a former firefighter from the West Haven (Conn.) Fire Department were arrested, accused of forcing a 12-year-old boy into sex slavery in Vermont until he was 25, according to a spokesman for the West Haven Police Department.
Vermont State Police arrested Frank Meyer, 39, and Brett Bartolotta, 42, in Ludlow, Vermont, on Wednesday after a sting operation in which the victim wore a wire.
Police said the firefighters bribed the boy with money and gifts, including a dirt bike and a hunting bow, since 2001 to get him to perform hundreds of sexual favors over the 12-year span.
The boy first met Bartolotta when he went to a friend's house to ride dirt bikes and Bartolotta approached the teen to join his racing team, according to documents filed with Superior Court in Vermont.
Soon after, Bartolotta offered to sell the teen a dirt bike, which he could pay off in weekly installments, according to documents.
The interaction turned sexual when the teen was unable to make a payment, according to officials.
Bartolotta offered himself as someone for the boy to speak with about problems and also to teach him about sex, court reports states.
Bartolotta paid the teen for sex acts until he paid off the bike, according to court records.
About two weeks after the bike was paid off, it was stolen.
The victim told police that he thought, in hindsight, that Bartolotta might have stolen the bike to continue meeting at his house.
When Bartolotta eventually got married and sold his condo, Bartolotta would take the teen to houses of construction clients in the Ludlow area, according to court documents.
A year after the first meeting, Bartolotta introduced the victim to Meyer, and the sex acts would occur on Friday nights, prior to Saturday races, according to court documents.
Meyer is currently a volunteer firefighter for the West Haven Fire Department at Engine 23 and a 911 dispatcher for the city of West Haven, Fire Chief James O'Brien said.
He is also the captain of the explorer program, a department program for youths, and photos online show him standing in front of Explorer Post 3.
As time passed, Meyer brought teens from Connecticut to Vermont and once asked the victim to perform a sex act on another 17-year-old boy, according to court documents, but the teen refused.
Police said Meyer also asked the teen to alter his appearance to look young and boyish and offered to pay for a new hunting bow in exchange for sex.
Bartolotta was a former volunteer firefighter for the department several years ago and now lives in Cavendish, Vermont, according to O'Brien. He also served as a past president of the Explorers, according to the department's Web site.
Police made the arrests on Wednesday after the victim recorded a conversation with Meyer at a Vermont restaurant. On the recording, Meyer acknowledged knowing the victim since he was 12, and alluded to sexual acts, police said. After Meyer was taken into custody, police searched Bartolotta's home and took computers and a gray box into evidence.
When police interviewed Bartolotta, he admitted to a "minor sexual relationship" with the victim over a five-year period, according to police, then later admitted to a more in-depth relationship that involved bondage and sex toys.
He also told police that the sexual encounters happened when his wife was at work and out of the house so they would not be discovered, according to court records.
Meyer and Bartolotta are charged with aggravated sexual assault and slave trafficking. Their bail is set at $50,000 and both are being held.
They each pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.
Two weeks ago, two volunteer firefighters from Coventry were arrested, accused of having sexual relations with members of the junior firefighter program, a program for teens between 14 and 17 years of age.
Joseph Michael Carilli, 55 of Coventry, the department’s training officer, was charged with sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor. No court records are available on Carilli's next court date.
Joe Fragoso, 35 of Coventry, a second lieutenant, was charged with second-degree sexual assault.
Fragoso is due in court on March 21.