TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that an Atlantic County man was sentenced to state prison today for using a file-sharing network to distribute child pornography online.
Craig C. Covell, 55, of Buena Vista, N.J., was sentenced to five years in state prison, including 2 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Donna M. Taylor in Atlantic County. Covell pleaded guilty on July 11, 2019 to a second-degree charge of distribution of child pornography (storing or maintaining child pornography in a file sharing program). He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. In pleading guilty, Covell admitted that he knowingly used file-sharing software to make multiple files of child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a “shared folder” on his computer.
Deputy Attorney General Supriya Prasad prosecuted Covell and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Rachael Weeks took the guilty plea. Covell was arrested last year in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task (ICAC) Force, and Division of Criminal Justice.
During the investigation, detectives of the State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) were monitoring an online file-sharing network that is popular with offenders who download and trade child pornography when they identified a computer address that was sharing child pornography. Detectives successfully downloaded numerous videos of child pornography being shared from that IP address, which was traced to the house where Covell was living in Buena Vista. On Oct. 19, 2018, detectives of the DTIU executed a search warrant at the house with assistance from the New Jersey State Parole Board and State Police TEAMS South Unit, K-9 South Unit, and Buena Criminal Investigations Office. Detectives seized multiple computers and hard drives used by Covell from the basement of the house. Forensic examinations conducted at the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Hamilton, Mercer County, revealed over 100 videos and images of child pornography on those computer devices.
“By sharing child pornography online, this defendant participated in a criminal network that promotes and perpetuates the brutal sexual exploitation of children,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Our multi-agency efforts to patrol the internet and put these offenders in prison are all about protecting children and ensuring justice for those who have been victimized.”
“We will continue to work with our partners at all levels of law enforcement to disrupt the online market for these abhorrent materials and send those who distribute them to prison,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We are sending a message that these are serious crimes with serious consequences.”
“We know that the depraved who seek out and share this filth create the demand, which is why our pursuit of these offenders will remain unrelenting,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to collaborate with our partners and utilize the most cutting-edge resources available to put these criminals behind bars.”
Deputy Attorney General Prasad prosecuted Covell under the supervision of Bureau Chief Julia S. Glass and Deputy Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives of the New Jersey State Police DTIU, as well as all of those who assisted in the investigation from the New Jersey State Parole Board and State Police TEAMS South Unit, K-9 South Unit, and Buena Criminal Investigations Office.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or about suspected 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.
Melissa Rosenblum, Esq., Linwood, N.J.
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