TRENTON, N.J. – A Branchburg, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 216 months in prison for his role in a scheme to produce sexually explicit images of children through a website he operated from his home computer, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Jonathan Soto, 27, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to Count One of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to produce child pornography. Judge Wolfson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Soto admitted that, from July 2014 through April 2015, he administered and operated a website designed to produce child pornography by tricking minor victims into engaging in sexually explicit activity on web cameras. As part of the conspiracy, Soto designed the website with certain online tools and a chatroom function that enabled users to target minor victims online, share victims’ social media profiles and discuss ways to get minors to produce child pornography over the internet.
Users of the website created false profiles on popular social media websites purporting to be young children, aged from about 10 to 16. Using these false profiles, the users chatted with actual children and lured the minor victims to other websites to engage in private chats. Once in a private chat room, users then persuaded child victims to engage in sexually explicit activity. Unbeknownst to the victims, when they engaged in sexually explicit activity, they were secretly recorded, and those videos were shared with other users on Soto’s website.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wolfson sentenced Soto to five years of supervised release.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and the Branchburg Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Young, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Wangenheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.