April 24th, 2010
12:51 AM ET

Man says Craigslist post offering to sell kids was a joke

New York State Police have arrested a man accused of posting his children for sale on Craigslist.

Joshua Stagnitto told police it was a joke, said Investigator Bryan R. Blum of New York State Police in Rochester. Stagnitto turned himself in when he got transportation to come to the police station, Blum said.

Stagnitto, 24, of Brockport, is charged with one count of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.

Blum told CNN the charge against Stagnitto stems from the fact "that he indicated a baseless allegation of a crime which caused public alarm" and triggered an investigation.

A member of the public called child protective services earlier in April after seeing the post. Authorities began a probe, and had to "make sure that if there are two kids for sale, that they be tracked down and nothing happened to them," Blum said.

When questioned by police, Stagnitto admitted he put the posting on Craigslist, the investigator said.

The two children remain with Stagnitto and their mother, whom Blum described as Stagnitto's "significant other."

Police do not believe the children are in any danger, he said.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Stagnitto could face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, Blum said.

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soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. You just crazy

    Seriously... you hope he gets a year in jail? Wow... that would be even more waste of taxpayers money. Putting the comedian in jail for a year will cost taxpayers more than $100,000. This was an April Fool's Day joke... and he actually posted 'This is a joke.' on the listing. Sure, give him a nice fine. Make him donate some time to an organization in need. But, jail... seriously? We already have too many people in jail that really don't need to be there.

    April 24, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Neville

    Wow. What do you suppose these police officers would have thought of (and done to) Jonathan Swift, when he published "A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick."

    I can see the headline now: "Man Charged for Inciting Cannibalism and Murder of Children. [graphic film at 11]"

    April 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tman

    Really? I understand that there are people that WOULD actually do this and be for real about it....but this guy said it was a joke and authorities already said the kids were in no danger, so why the hell all the hype over it.....how about when police officers pull someone over as a joke (like I've seen on tv too many times)....you are risking giving someone a heart attack and wasting tax payers money....but it's just a joke! Why arent they liable? The justice system is a joke!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Margaret Pritchett

    I suppose this means my mother should have been arrested for offering me "A quarter to play on the freeway" when I drove her crazy at times???
    Lighten up people. It was also posted on APRIL FOOL'S DAY!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. annie

    lighten up people. its totally funny because who in the right mind would buy someones used, unwanted children?

    April 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jo

    Why don't the police act this quickly to remove the hookers and drug dealers on craigslist
    It was a joke.. a bad joke but a joke nonetheless

    April 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. da

    The problem is, there are parents out there who really ARE trying to sell their kids, usually to get money for drugs. The difference is, they wouldn't try to do it online because its too easy to get caught that way. But it is happening, and the police are obligated to investigate when there are reports that children might be in danger. Humor is fine and good, but when the humor is threatening the health and welfare of a person, then I don't consider it humor. There are some things you don't make jokes about. You don't joke about having a bomb when you're in an airport, you don't shout fire in a crowded theatre, and you don't joke about selling your kids in a post on craigslist.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CPS worker

    #19 – I understand your pain... but at the same time, if callers were required to give their name and contact information, way less people would call. In those cases where CPS goes out and can't substantiate a claim that shouldn't automatically qualify that report as a "false" or "malicious" report. Kids out of fear can deny the abuse, and bruises could have healed. I'm sorry you had a false allegation against you and I know that it happens. But I've also seen enough cases where CPS did not have enough evidence to substantiate and the kid winds up dead later. And for those who think this person was wrong in calling the hotline, about the craigslist ad... there literally was a case my coworker had where this woman sold her kid on craigslist and the kid (a baby) wound up with all bones in his body broken by whoever "bought" him. This was just a tasteless joke, but aren't you glad the authorities investigated this in case this dad was of the caliber to actually sell his children?

    April 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. colleen

    when i was little, if i was naughty, my mom used to say she was going to stick me upside down in a trashcan. i used to laugh it off. these days, she'd probably be serving 20 years for threatening a child with an inanimate object....... or something. this world is so lame.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim

    In Las Vegas, there have been several convictions recently of men who solicited sex with underage girls via CraigsList. Like it or not, there are people who try to use CraigsList and other such services for genuinely bad purposes. And law enforcement officials have to keep an eye on this kind of thing, and they often do successfully catch genuinely bad people doing genuinely bad things. So, even if something is meant as a joke, they cannot afford to ignore it. What choice do they really have? What if something gets put on CraigsList that looks like a joke to us but really isn't? If the investigators were to choose to see it as a joke and ignore it, and then something bad happened, you'd all be screaming about their incompetence. Here's a quick lesson in the 1st Amendment: free speech is not and never has been absolute. There are always limits to what is legally okay. That's not an Obama thing; that's not a Bush thing. That's a Supreme Court thing, traceable at least as far back as John Adams. The problem with the anonymity of blogging and the like is that people have lost their ability to think before they speak.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JM

    I would try to sell my girlfriend .....Free To take and put up with ...all sales are final..this is good fun.. I guess The USA can't take a joke come to canada

    April 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nick

    I think the real culprit in this case is the police and CPS(CYS around here). Obviously an April fool joke, the hard nose beaurocrats insist on standing on as much ceremony as possible. Plus, the have an easy conviction without having to do any real investigative work. The case was dropped in their laps, of course they are going to milk it for what it is worth. Even if no real crime was committed. It's easier than investigating a REAL case of child abuse/neglect.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jokercllsn6

    people are taking jokes a little to far these days, I mean seriously, that was just downright stupid. Might be a joke to him, or the wife but what about the hundreds that view the sites ads? Although I do not see how he is charged with a crime of reporting a false statement, if the report was posted via internet and not with the police station. Everyone on the internet lies, so does that mean they'll charge everyone with that crime? No, freedom of speech protects that.. they need to charge him with a different crime that's more suitable for his actions. A cyber crime maybe? or even endangering the welfare of children..

    April 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MJ

    He's an idiot and should have to pay a fine for being so stupid. Somethings you just don't joke about!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ty

    Seriously? the police should be focusing on tracking some of the scammers stealing people's money off of Craigslist instead of some douche posting up an April's fools joke.
    what a waste of time and money.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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