Stephen Bradley Mell had a $3.8 million home, a brokerage firm, two airplanes, a helicopter, a wife and three children.
On Tuesday, he will have possibly five years in federal prison and five years of supervised release after pleading guilty in late 2018 to charges of interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct and receiving child pornography.
Mell is also facing the possibility of a multi-year sentence in state prison after pleading guilty in May to engaging in sexual relations with a female victim under the age of 16 in New Jersey.
Known by many as Brad, Mell was an active community member, serving on a school’s board and volunteering for charities. But it was his love of flying that contributed to his life going into a tailspin, law enforcement authorities say.
A 2018 federal complaint graphically details the charges: Mell began communicating with the 15-year-old through text messages and SnapChat in 2017. He was 51 at the time.
Mell already had “a pre-existing relationship with the minor” when he began communicating with her, according to the brief filed in support of his release on bail.
“In fact, it was the minor’s mother who first introduced Mr. Mell to obtain flight lessons for the minor,” the brief states.
Communication between Mell and the minor became sexual when Mell asked the girl “if she knew how to perform oral sex.” He later invited her to spend time alone with him at his Bedminster home.
On June 20, 2017, Mell “performed oral sex acts” on the girl, according to the complaint. Two weeks later, he messaged the girl and told her, “Miss you so much.”
On July 5, 2017, he again performed sex acts on the minor, according to the complaint. One day later, he purchased an emergency contraceptive pill for her.
“If you are nervous it will hurt more,” Mell said to the girl in a text message. “When you are turned on is when it will feel ok.”
On July 20, 2017, Mell flew with her in his private plane from Somerset Airport to Barnstable, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod “for the purpose of engaging in illicit conduct, specifically, a sexual act with a person under the age of eighteen.”
On the flight back, Mell put the aircraft in autopilot mode and engaged in sex acts, the complaint says.
The next day, Mell performed sex acts on the minor in Hunterdon County, according to the complaint.
Throughout August 2017, Mell asked the girl to send him text messages, SnapChat photos or FaceTime video chats of images of the minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Sometime during the summer of 2017, Mell gave the girl a birthday card for her 16th birthday.
On Aug. 23, 2017, Mell arranged for a hotel room to be booked on the same day and in the same town the minor was out eating dinner.
“Now let me get a room and we are all set,” Mell said to the girl in a text message.
Around that same time, Mell and the minor traveled to New York City separately and, while in the city, engaged in sexual intercourse, according to the complaint.
He then took a photo of the girl with his cellphone while she was standing naked in front of him, her “genital area clearly visible.”
On Sept. 18, 2017 he begged the minor to get birth control.
“Please get the IUD,” he texted her. “I know you are trying.”
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