Somerset County officials announced that on Friday, May 6, defendants Marina Volz, aka Matthew Volz, 32; Ashley Romero, aka Adam Romero, 28; Sean Allen, 54 and Dulcinea Gnecco, 21, were sentenced to a combined sixty-seven years in prison stemming from their roles in the human trafficking and repeated explicit assault of Defendant Marina Volz’s seven-year-old child.
The criminal investigation into the defendants’ conduct began in January 2019 when an anonymous caller contacted the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (NJ DCP&P) Child Abuse Hotline (1-877 NJ ABUSE) and reported suspected abuse to a young child residing in the defendants’ Coburn Lane, Franklin Township (Somerset County) home.
According to officials, on the night that the anonymous call was made, NJ DCP&P personnel and Franklin Township Police Department officers responded to the defendants’ residence and began an investigation which ultimately resulted in the child being removed from the home.
Officials said that the following day, detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit interviewed the victim and thereafter obtained and executed a search warrant upon the defendants’ residence.
Evidence seized during the search warrant execution (including more than 30 computers, cameras and digital storage devices) and the ensuing investigation revealed that defendants Volz, Romero and Allen operated what defendants described as a “family-owned transgender pornography production studio specializing in amateur, BDSM and taboo fetish content” from the residence.
The investigation established that in December 2018, defendant Volz traveled to the West Coast to assume custody of her biological seven-year-old female child and bring the minor back to New Jersey with the purpose of engaging in explicit activity with the minor.
According to the investigation, Defendants Romero and Allen assisted Volz in bringing the minor to New Jersey to be explicitly assaulted and filmed.
The investigation found that once in New Jersey, defendants Romero and Allen jointly explicitly assaulted the minor and filmed the assault, the video of which was recovered from multiple electronic items within the home.
The search of the electronic devices revealed multiple text messages and other electronic communications between defendants Volz, Romero, Allen and third parties discussing the sexual assault of the child.
Police also recovered firearms, a high-capacity ammunition magazine, and cocaine from the defendants’ residence.
According to officials, on May 29, 2019, police arrested the defendants, and the State successfully moved for pretrial detention of the defendants in the Somerset County Jail.
On November 16, 2022, following extensive pretrial litigation, the defendants entered guilty pleas.
All four defendants pled guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Child
Defendant Volz, Defendant Romero and Defendant Allen also pled guilty to Human Trafficking, Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking, Aggravated Explicit Assault, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Sexual Explicit and Endangering the Welfare of a Child by creating explicit images of minors.
Additionally, Defendant Volz and Defendant Romero pled guilty to Conspiracy to Endanger the Welfare of a Child by creating explicit images of minors and Endangering the Welfare of a Child by engaging in conduct that would impair or debauch the child.
Finally, Defendant Volz pled guilty to Possession of a High Capacity Ammunition Magazine.