|TRENTON - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that the former Public Works Administrator for Morristown has been indicted for allegedly distributing child pornography over the Internet. The former public official was among 27 defendants arrested last year as a result of “Operation Watchdog,” an investigation that targeted offenders who distributed known images and videos of child pornography via the Internet.
Charles E. Jones, 51, of Morristown, who held the position of Public Works Administrator for Morristown at the time of his arrest on April 9, 2012, was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography, second-degree offering child pornography, and fourth-degree possession of child pornography.
The indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice alleges that between June 25, 2011 and the date of his arrest, Jones knowingly used Internet file sharing software to make multiple files containing child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a designated “shared folder” on his computer. A search warrant executed by the New Jersey State Police on April 9, 2012 allegedly revealed more than 30 files containing child pornography, including video clips and photographic images, on Jones’s computer in his home in Morristown.
“Those who view and distribute child pornography come from all walks of life, as the allegations against Jones illustrate. But once a man strays down this dark path, he is no different from the other offenders who create demand for these vile materials and who share responsibility for the torture and exploitation of innocent children,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We will aggressively prosecute Jones and the other defendants charged in Operation Watchdog.”
“We will continue to partner with the New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement agencies in technology-driven investigations such as Operation Watchdog to target those who use peer-to-peer software to share child pornography,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We want offenders to know that when they share these images on the Internet, they are also sharing evidence of their crimes with law enforcement.”
“If no one was willing to trade and distribute child pornography, this depraved material would almost cease to exist, but as long as people dare to possess and share this filth, we will search them out and arrest them,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Jones was charged in Operation Watchdog, a three-month, multi-agency investigation in which one woman and 26 men were arrested in March and April of 2012 on charges of distribution and possession of child pornography. Detectives linked all of the defendants to alleged use of the Internet to download and distribute images of child pornography. Peer to Peer, or P2P, file sharing networks play a major role in the distribution of child pornography. There is a large library of images and videos known to law enforcement, and these electronic files can be traced in various ways on the Internet. Detectives involved in Operation Watchdog tracked transferred files to their origin and destination locations.
Deputy Attorney General Kenneth R. Sharpe of the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit presented the indictment to the state grand jury. The Digital Technology Investigation Unit of the New Jersey State Police coordinated the investigation, which also involved the Division of Criminal Justice and 19 other law enforcement agencies.
All of the New Jersey agencies that partnered in Operation Watchdog are members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Additionally, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI assisted with the investigation and execution of warrants.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Sumners Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Morris County, where Jones will be ordered to appear at a later date for arraignment.
The ICAC Task Force in New Jersey works with out-of-state partners to share information on distributors and users of child pornography. A major partner is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C. They maintain a national, toll-free tip line for the public to report crimes against children: 1-800-THE-LOST, or 1-800-843-5678. The tip line brings hundreds of leads to the New Jersey ICAC Task Force on sexual crimes against children.