TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a sex offender from Middlesex County was sentenced to prison today for attempting to lure a 14-year-old boy he met through social media to a park for a sexual encounter. The “boy” in reality was an undercover detective of the New Jersey State Police.
Harold Gordner, 42, of Highland Park, N.J., was sentenced to five years in prison by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus in Middlesex County. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 19, 2019 to charges of attempted impairing or debauching the morals of a child and violating the conditions of his community supervision for life. Gordner has two prior convictions for molesting children in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He was already registered as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and remains subject to community supervision for life.
Deputy Attorney General Danielle P. Counts handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau. Gordner was arrested in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU). The New Jersey State Parole Board and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office provided assistance.
Gordner was arrested by the New Jersey State Police on May 18, 2018 in Sayreville, N.J. About one month earlier, an undercover detective from the State Police DTIU encountered Gordner on social media. Gordner, who believed that the undercover detective was a 14-year-old boy, engaged in sexually explicit chats with the “boy” and sent sexually explicit photos of himself, as well as links to pornographic videos from a pornography website. Gordner asked several times whether he could send a car service to pick up the “boy” to bring him to his residence in Highland Park to engage in sexual activity. Ultimately, Gordner arranged to meet the “boy” at John F. Kennedy Park in Sayreville on the afternoon of May 18, 2018 for a sexual encounter. Gordner was arrested by members of the State Police DTIU when he arrived at the location.
“This case highlights the need for constant vigilance on the part of law enforcement and parents to protect children from sexual predators who use social media to target young victims,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I commend our detectives and attorneys in the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice who put this child predator behind bars where he belongs.”
“Given his prior convictions for sexual abuse of children, it is clear that Gordner would have continued to seek underage victims on social media if the State Police had not uncovered his predatory conduct and arrested him,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to work tirelessly with the State Police and all of our partners on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to protect children.”
“Our commitment to keeping New Jersey’s children safe is unwavering, whether it’s online, on the road, or at the playground, but the best line of defense against predators like Gordner starts with education both at home and in school,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend our detectives in the State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and our partners for securing this substantial prison sentence against a repeat sex offender.”
Former Deputy Attorney General Layli Khelafa was initially assigned to the prosecution of Gordner for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter and former Bureau Chief Julia Glass.
In addition to investigating cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, and the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force routinely conduct undercover chat investigations on social media platforms leading to arrests of hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children. They also conduct proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography.
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 please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Assistant Deputy Public Defender Jacqueline Boulos, Middlesex County.