Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy today announced that 16 defendants have been arrested in “Operation Safeguard,” a joint operation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations that targeted offenders who used an online file-sharing network to download and distribute child pornography, including videos of young children being raped.
All 16 defendants were charged with second-degree distribution of child pornography, which carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, and third-degree possession of child pornography, which carries a sentence of three to five years in prison. The arrests, made between Feb. 10 and March 31, include the following cases:
More than 100 files of child pornography were allegedly found on a personal computer of Thomas Guzzi Jr., a 5th grade teacher at the John H. Winslow Elementary School in Vineland. Guzzi participated in drama productions involving children as the drama club advisor at the school and as stage manager at the Broadway Theatre of Pitman. He also is charged with third-degree invasion of privacy for allegedly hiding a tablet computer in a bathroom stall at the Broadway Theatre to record video of others using the toilet. A video found on his computer allegedly revealed him installing the camera.
Agents downloaded 27 files of child pornography from a shared folder on the personal computer of a bus driver for the Sparta School District. Eugene Triston, 55, allegedly viewed child pornography on breaks between bus runs, which included driving elementary school children.
A 17-year-old high school student from Hudson County allegedly had 122 files of suspected child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. The juvenile allegedly sold child pornography to people whom he met online in exchange for Amazon gift cards.
A senior IT officer for an insurance company in Jersey City, Shaun Dooley, allegedly had 220 files of suspected child pornography stored on his personal computer.
A factory worker from Kearny, Andres Tejada-Diaz, allegedly had 168 files of suspected child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. Investigators found a locked suitcase filled with sex toys and underwear for little girls when they executed a search warrant at his home.
“These defendants come from all walks of life, but they allegedly share a depraved desire to see children being raped and sexually exploited,” said Acting Attorney General Lougy. “By viewing and distributing child pornography, particularly the child rape videos targeted in this operation, these offenders directly motivate and put themselves in league with the predators who torture children to create these repulsive materials. Through sweeps like Operation Safeguard, we send a powerful message that these are very serious crimes and we are determined to put those who commit them behind bars.”
The 16 defendants range in age from 17 to 72. All of them are charged under New Jersey’s strict 2013 child pornography law, which enhanced the penalties for those who possess, distribute or manufacture child pornography.
If convicted of distributing 25 or more computer files of child pornography – which includes simply having that number of files in a shared folder on their computers, available for other users to download – the defendants will face a mandatory minimum state prison sentence of five years without possibility of parole. Any defendant found to have possessed 100 or more files of child pornography on his computer will face a presumptive sentence of three to five years in state prison.
During Operation Safeguard, special agents of HSI and detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police monitored several online file-sharing networks that are popular with offenders who download and trade child pornography. Using advanced technology, the investigators searched for telltale digital “fingerprints” of known child pornography, as well as search terms used by those who download and share child pornography.
Through these and other methods, they identified New Jersey residents who were downloading child pornography and making child pornography available to others in “shared folders” on their computers. The files included videos showing pre-pubescent boys and girls being raped or being coerced into performing sexual acts on themselves or others. The file-sharing networks used by offenders to distribute child pornography operate in the same manner as websites used for privately sharing music or movies. Those in possession of the illegal images can make them available on computers that they control for others to download.
All 16 of the defendants are charged with distribution of child pornography for allegedly using Internet file-sharing software to make files containing child pornography readily available for others to download from a “shared folder” on their computers. Investigators allegedly downloaded files of child pornography from shared folders on the computers of each of the defendants during the investigation.
The Division of Criminal Justice obtained search warrants which they executed with HSI and the New Jersey State Police starting on Feb. 10. Many state, county and local law enforcement agencies assisted. The following is a full list of the defendants who were arrested. All are charged with both possession and distribution of child pornography. Where noted, they were charged and face enhanced penalties for possession of 100 or more files of child pornography and/or distribution of 25 or more files.
Thomas Guzzi Jr., 36, of Pitman. Teacher at John H. Winslow Elementary School in Vineland. Arrested Feb. 19. Bail, $50,000. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography.
Eugene Triston, 55, of Stanhope. Bus driver in Sparta School District. Arrested Feb. 10. Bail, $50,000. Charged with distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography.
Male Juvenile, 17, of Kearny. Arrested March 15. Released with ankle monitor. Charged with selling child pornography, possession of 100 or more files of child pornography, and distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography.
Shaun Dooley, 46, of Summit. Senior IT officer for insurance company. Arrested March 9. Bail, $75,000. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography.
Andres Tejada-Diaz, 42, of Kearny. Arrested March 3. Bail, $100,000. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography and distribution of 25 or more files.
John Wilms, 46, of Mount Holly. Driver for parcel delivery service. Arrested Feb. 25. Bail, $100,000. Charged with distributing 25 or more files of child pornography for files allegedly found in a shared folder on his computer, including many videos involving infants.
Robert Kunert, 22, of Hamilton, Mercer County. Supermarket employee. Arrested March 31. Bail, $52,000. He allegedly possessed approximately 298 files of child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography and distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography.
Matthew Dieterman, 32, of Piscataway. Public employee who works for Somerset County in county garage. Arrested March 4. Bail, $50,000. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography and distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography.
Oziel Hernandez Sandoval, 27, of Piscataway. Employment unknown. Arrested March 29. Bail, $75,000. A forensic preview revealed approximately 225 files of child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography and distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography.
Bernard Rapp, 72, of Southampton. Retired. Arrested Feb. 24. Bail, $75,000. Charged with possession of 100 or more files of child pornography.
Germin Simon, 34, of South Plainfield. Self-employed computer repair technician under name “The Computer Man.” Arrested March 17. Bail, $100,000.
William Morgan, 59, of Manalapan. Unemployed. Arrested March 24. Bail, $150,000.
Christian Martinez-Gonzalez, 34, of East Windsor. Factory worker. Arrested March 7. Bail, $50,000.
Brandon Weiss, 42, of Burlington Township. Line worker for label printing company. Arrested Feb. 23. Bail, $100,000.
Armando Gonzalez-Longorio, 70, of Elizabeth. Works for employment agency. Arrested Feb. 18. Bail, $100,000.
Dimas Zuniga, 44, of Roselle. Employment unknown. Arrested March 22. Bail, $50,000.
The charges are indictable offenses, so they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.
The investigation is ongoing and the defendants may face additional charges upon indictment. They will be prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
The new child pornography law signed by Governor Christie in 2013 changed the definition of “child” to any person under 18 years of age – up from 16 in the old law – and increased the punishment for virtually all offenses, bringing New Jersey law into much closer alignment with federal law. It upgraded possession of child pornography from a fourth- to a third-degree crime, and modified the previously existing presumption against imprisonment for anyone with no prior felony conviction convicted of a third-degree crime. Under the new law, possession of 100 or more files of child pornography carries a presumption that the defendant will face a prison term of three to five years. Distribution of child pornography remains a second-degree crime, carrying a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, but the new law imposes a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years for distribution of 25 or more files. The law imposes strict liability on Internet file sharers, placing responsibility on the user for having child pornography in a “shared folder” on his computer.
Whether the user knew he was sharing, or whether any other user ever downloaded the file, is irrelevant. If a defendant is convicted of possessing 25 or more files in a shared folder, he is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole. In cases of possession or distribution of child pornography, the prosecutor can ask the court to impose a sentence of parole supervision for life under Megan’s Law.