Lakemoor Teacher Arrested on Federal Child Sexual Exploitation Charges

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:


CHICAGO ― A middle school teacher in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove was arrested this morning on federal charges for allegedly receiving child pornography and persuading a minor to produce pornographic images of himself.

John Vastis

John Vastis

The defendant, JOHN C. VASTIS, also known as “Pete,” 51, of Lakemoor, which straddles Lake and McHenry counties, was arrested at his home early this morning by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations at the same time they executed a federal search warrant.

Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove

Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove

Vastis is a teacher at the Meridian Middle School in Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 in Buffalo Grove. There are no allegations of any sexual exploitation of any students. School district officials are cooperating with the investigation.

Vastis was charged with two counts of producing child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography. He appeared before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole and was ordered to remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing, which was scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call HSI’s toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or submit information using HSI’s online tip form at Callers may remain anonymous.

According to the complaint, on Aug. 15, HSI agents and local police executed a state search warrant at the residence of a 17-year-old youth who was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The youth, identified as “Minor A,” told agents that he began communicating via Skype and text messages with an adult he identified as “Pete” when he was 16-years-old in September 2013.

Agents later identified “Pete” as Vastis, the charges allege.

Agents then analyzed data from Minor A’s computer and cell phone and recovered more than 3,200 lines of chat messages between Minor A and “Pete.” Excerpts of those chats are detailed in the complaint affidavit.
The sexual exploitation of a minor charges allege that on Jan. 18 and March 3, 2014, Vastis

  • persuaded
  • induced
  • enticed

Minor A to produce pornographic images of himself and send them to Vastis.

He was also charged with receiving a video containing child pornography on July 13.

Each count of producing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison, while receiving child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years, and each count carries a $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

The arrest and charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in Chicago. The Lakemoor Police Department, together with state and local HSI task force officers and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, are assisting in the investigation. The Buffalo Grove Police Department is also cooperating with the investigation. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kness.

The investigation is being conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since its launch in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

A complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Lakemoor Teacher Arrested on Federal Child Sexual Exploitation Charges — 3 Comments

  1. Family Taxpayers Foundation

    Teacher Salary Database

    Fiscal Year 2012 (School Year 2011 – 2012)

    Name: Vastis, John

    Salary: $84,928

    Position: Junior High/Middle Teacher

    Full/Part Time: Fulltime

    Percent Time Employed: 100%

    Assignment: Language Arts (Grades 1-8 Only)

    Years Teaching: 20

    Degree: Master’s

    School Name: Meridian Middle School

    District Name: Aptakisic-Tripp CCSD 102

  2. If you suspect any criminal wrongdoing (child porn, molesting, etc.) in a school district, contact the police (not the school district), and let the police handle the investigation.

    Depending on the circumstances you may also want to contact a lawyer specializing in such cases.

    The police, not school districts, are trained to handle criminal investigations.

    School districts have been known in their internal investigations to sweep bad news under the rug to uphold their image, not unlike the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.

    Schools even have a name for the practice.

    Pass the trash.

    The employee (trash) is allowed to resign and the allegations remain confidential, unbeknownst to the new school district, and the employee is thus passed along to another school district.

    Each school district looks to protect it’s kids, not necessarily the kids outside their district.

    With that said school district employees are mandated by state law to report suspicions to DCFS.

    It seems incremental improvement has been made in exposing these cases to the public.

    Each case is unique.

  3. He sounds like an IEA posterboy!

    Maybe they’ll pay for his legal defense.

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