Nutley PD: Volunteer fire chief under investigation following YouTube underage sex ‘sting’

Screenshot of Meola in reported YouTube sting operation @obi-nation on Instagram

The 33-year-old volunteer Chief of the Nutley Fire Department is under investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office after he was reportedly nabbed in a YouTube “sting” operation that goes after adults who attempt to lure minors for sex, the Nutley Police Department said in a statement today.

Numerous agencies have identified the chief as Henry Meola, 33, who can be seen in a video posted to Instagram answering questions posed to him by a man called Ramy, who has spent a good chunk of the last two-plus years using YouTube to find adults who attempt to have sex with underaged children.

While the entire ordeal was live streamed on YouTube Dec. 6, it has since been taken down. This is a common practice, however, as the “sting” coordinators will instead later re-post the videos in an edited, non-raw format.

Ramy and his cohorts — there are hundreds of similar YouTubers who do similar work across the country — will often serve as decoys on dating apps and pretend to be under the New Jersey age of consent, 16 — often claiming to be much younger.

When the prospective “predator” agrees to meet the underage decoy, instead of finding a teenager, they’ll find Ramy and his partners who then confront them with cameras rolling, usually live on YouTube and other streaming services.

The YouTubers are often referred to as “predator catchers.”

These “vigilantes” generally claim to be doing what they do to rid their communities of people who would have the audacity to attempt to lure minors for sexual relations.

In the case with the Nutley chief, he was reported to have journeyed to a Walmart in North Bergen, but instead of meeting whom he believed was a 14-year-old boy, he instead met Ramy and two other adults who were with him to assist with the “sting.”

At 2:35 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, Det. Lt. Anthony Montanari, the Nutley Police Department’s public-information officer, released a two-line statement confirming the incident actually took place and is under investigation.

“The Nutley Police Department has confirmed that we are investigating allegations against a volunteer fire chief,” Montanari’s statement read. “The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting an ongoing investigation regarding these allegations that were reportedly recorded by a YouTuber and no charges have been authorized at this time.”

The case has since been transferred to the Hudson County Prosecutor since the incident  allegedly took place in North Bergen.

Ramy, meanwhile, posted a clip of the operation on his Instagram account — @obl.nation — and while has caught hundreds of men, he says this one was particularly disturbing.

“So last night we caught the Chief of the Nutley Fire Department trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy and it was one of the most heart wrenching catches I’ve done,” Ramy said. “My guy confessed to EVERYTHING & ultimately got detained & all electronics seized by the amazing detectives we worked with last night!

“Got word from Nutley detectives that the prosecutor is going to prosecute. We’re going to go in today to provide official statements & more electronic evidence to cooperate with the investigation so we can turn it into an arrest!

“For those asking about when the catch will drop, it’ll get posted within two weeks or so after some of our other high profile catches get uploaded first.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.