A Pennsylvania man and former basketball coach allegedly had sexually charged online conversations with a 13-year-old Hall County boy through the online game Fortnite and tried to meet him, according to authorities.
What he didn’t know was that a Hall County Sheriff’s Office detective assumed the boy’s online identity after the 13-year-old told his mother who then reported it to law enforcement Oct. 23.
The boy and Gregory Mancini, 29, of Erie, Pennsylvania, played the shooter game Fortnite on Xbox and communicated through the console’s headset.
“Over the course of several weeks, the two began to video chat, and the man turned the conversation to sexual subject matter. As the contact continued, the man said that he planned to travel to metro Atlanta and wanted to meet with the boy,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth wrote in a Dec. 4 news release.
On Nov. 2, the Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad investigators contacted Mancini, who said he was in the Atlanta area.
“I believe this guy was coming to Atlanta for other business … or maybe to visit other family in the state of Georgia,” Lt. Don Scalia said.
The sheriff’s office reported Mancini became “spooked” when speaking with an undercover investigator at the first meeting location set up by investigators.
Investigators then took Mancini into custody at a second meetup location on Golden Parkway off of Lanier Islands Parkway in Buford.
He was charged with criminal attempt to commit child molestation and obscene Internet contact with a child and booked Nov. 3 in to the Hall County Jail.
Cathedral Preparatory School Director of Athletics Bill Flanagan said Mancini was no longer employed with the school. He had worked there for roughly five years and was an assistant basketball coach.
Mancini was released on a $16,900 bond Nov. 8.
His attorney Arturo Corso declined to comment.
Mancini’s father answered the phone when The Times called for comment, and he directed all questions to Corso.
The case is still under investigation.