Cranford Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Explicit Images of Minors

NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man today admitted distributing multiple images and videos depicting child sexual abuse, as well as soliciting two children to engage in sexually explicit conduct online, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Official say, Christopher Gardiner, 36, of Cranford, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with one count of distributing Explicit Images of Minors and two counts of online enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between March 2018 and June 2018, Gardiner engaged an undercover agent in an ongoing sexually graphic conversation on a web-based social media application.

During the course of the conversation, Gardiner publicly posted in a chatroom multiple videos depicting the sexual abuse of children and sent similar videos to the undercover agent directly. Law enforcement subsequently discovered numerous images and videos of Explicit Images of a Minors on Gardiner’s electronic devices when he was arrested at his home in August 2018.

During a forensic examination of Gardiner’s electronic devices, law enforcement discovered multiple conversations in which Gardiner engaged children in sexually explicit conversations and encouraged them to record themselves engaging in criminal sexual conduct. Law enforcement subsequently identified the children and confirmed that they were under the age of 18 at the time of their conversations with Gardiner.

Gardiner was previously convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor and distribution of Explicit Images of Minors in Union County in 2007. For a repeat offender, the charge of distribution of Explicit Images of Minors carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

The charges of online enticement carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 4, 2020.