|TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that two Union County men were indicted today for allegedly possessing hundreds of videos and images of child pornography and offering child pornography online. Both men were arrested during investigations targeting individuals using an online peer-to-peer network popular with offenders who share child pornography. One was arrested in “Operation Safeguard,” a child pornography sweep conducted last year by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the New Jersey State Police.
The Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau-Cyber Crimes Unit obtained separate state grand jury indictments today charging these two men:
- Burt G. Harvey-Martinez, 35, of Elizabeth, N.J., was indicted on charges of second-degree offering 25 or more items of child pornography for distribution using a file-sharing program, second-degree distribution of child pornography, and third-degree possession of 100 or more items of child pornography; and
- Dimas Zuniga, 45, of Roselle, N.J., who was arrested in Operation Safeguard, was indicted on charges of second-degree offering child pornography for distribution using a file-sharing program and third-degree possession of 100 or more items of child pornography.
“Both of these men allegedly joined the depraved network of criminals who share child pornography online and thereby create a market for the cruel victimization of children,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We’re making it a top priority to lock up these offenders who exploit and harm children.”
“Through sweeps like Operation Safeguard, we will continue to deliver the message that viewing and distributing child pornography is a serious crime that will be met with stern punishment,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “As easily as these offenders find each other online and share these repulsive materials, we will find them and charge them.”
“Sharing videos and images of children being raped, tortured and abused is just as despicable as the very acts,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to safeguard children by exposing these animals who hide behind the veil of a computer screen.”
“This case succeeded because of the countless hours and dedication of our special agents and their law enforcement partners. Together, they continue to send a clear message that this behavior will not exist within our society,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Terence S. Opiola.
During Operation Safeguard, special agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (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.
Zuniga was arrested on March 22, 2016, when agents and detectives conducting Operation Safeguard executed a search warrant at his residence in Roselle. It is alleged that a detective of the New Jersey State Police previously had downloaded videos of child pornography from a shared folder at an IP traced to Zuniga. During the search, detectives seized computer equipment belonging to Zuniga, including a hard drive that allegedly contained approximately 350 files of child pornography. The Roselle Police Department assisted in the operation.
Harvey-Martinez was arrested on July 19, 2016 in a separate but similar investigation targeting users sharing child pornography on a file-sharing network. Detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice downloaded several files of child pornography from an IP address traced to Harvey-Martinez. They then executed a search warrant at his residence in Elizabeth, where they seized his laptop computer, which allegedly contained numerous videos and images of child pornography. A forensic preview of the laptop revealed approximately 1,459 files of suspected child pornography in a shared folder. The Elizabeth Police Department assisted in the operation.
Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo presented the indictments to the grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Former Detective Tiffany Lenart and Detectives Laura Hurley, Richard DaSilva and Charles Pusloski investigated the cases for the Division of Criminal Justice, in collaboration with HSI agents and detectives of the New Jersey State Police.
The indictments were handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the cases to Union County, where the defendants will be arraigned in court at a later date. The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Both defendants remain in the Union County Jail, with bail set at $75,000 for Harvey-Martinez and $50,000 for Zuniga.
Under the tough child pornography law signed by Governor Christie in 2013, possession of 100 or more items of child pornography is a third-degree offense that carries a presumptive sentence of three to five years in prison, whether or not the defendant has any prior felony conviction. Distribution of child pornography is a second-degree crime, carrying a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, and the new law imposes a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years for distribution of 25 or more items. 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 items 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.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the Internet or who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
For Harvey-Martinez: Andy Hammond Murray, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Union County
For Zuniga: Natalia C. Diaz, Esq., The Diaz Law Firm LLC, Elizabeth, N.J.
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