FREEHOLD, NJ — Investigations spanning nearly three months have resulted in the arrest of 15 individuals on various first- through third-degree child pornography charges, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

These arrests, which occurred between July 21 and October 15, were designed to reduce online threats throughout Monmouth County to decrease the market for child sexual exploitation by focusing on those individuals seeking out and trafficking child pornographic-materials, the office said in a release.

Those arrested and charged were:

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  • Antonio Mejia, 38, of 806 Fifth Avenue, Asbury Park, was arrested on July 21 following an investigation that revealed he transmitted numerous images of child sexual abuse materials and engaged in sexual conversations with three males under age 16. Mejia was charged with one count each of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials), attempted endangering the welfare of a child (manufacturing an image of child exploitation material) and endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials), and three counts each of endangering the welfare of a child and attempted obscenity to minors. After a July 30 detention hearing before Judge Paul X. Escandon, Mejia was released on the condition that he have no contact with the victims, no access to social media and no contact with anyone under age 18. Mejia is represented by attorney Joy Anderson of Eatontown.
  • Brody Sullivan, 20, of 2 Ithaca Court, Aberdeen, was arrested on July 22 following an investigation that revealed that he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 and no Internet access. Sullivan is represented by attorney Anthony Palumbo of Cranford.
  • Anthony Lichtenau, 36, of 72 Brentwood Road, Eatontown, was arrested on July 24 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 and no Internet access. Lichtenau is represented by attorney Mitchell Ansell of Ocean Township.
  • Matthew Fahmie, 33, of 30 Northover Place, Middletown, was arrested on September 10 following an investigation that revealed he possessed more than 1,000 images of child sexual exploitation material. He was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 and restricted Internet access. Fahmie is represented by attorney Richard Incremona of Freehold Township.
  • Valentin Valdetano, 20, of 359 North Bath Avenue, Long Branch, was arrested on July 31 following an investigation that revealed he possessed and traded images of child sexual abuse materials using a chat platform. He was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials) and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Valdetano was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 and that he not use the Internet. Valdetano is represented by attorney Charles Moriarty of Long Branch.
  • Zachary Barnett, 24, 984 Twilight Way, Aberdeen, was arrested on August 7 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Barnett, who was released on a summons, is represented by attorney Allison Friedman of Freehold.
  • Brian Wioncek, 62, of 317 Shore Drive, Apt. C, Highlands, was arrested on September 9 following an investigation that revealed he possessed child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Wioncek was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 and that his Internet usage be restricted.
  • Joseph Hynes, 21, of 90 Bannard Street, Freehold, was arrested on August 21 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and a disorderly persons offense for possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Hynes, who was released on a summons, is represented by attorney Charles Clark of Freehold.
  • Michael Townend, 19, 203 Colts Neck Road, Howell, was arrested on August 25 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials).  Townend, who was released on a summons, is represented by attorney Steven Nelson of Neptune.
  • Robert Sherman, 62, of 112 Route 36, Highlands, was arrested on September 1 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Sherman was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Sherman, who was released on a summons, is represented by attorney Michael Polloway of Red Bank.
  • Michael Pipitone, 38, of 157 Rutledge Drive, Middletown, was arrested on September 2 following an investigation that revealed he shared more than 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. Pipitone was charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials) and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Pipitone was released on the condition of home detention, no Internet usage and no contact with anyone under age 18. Pipitone is represented attorney John Hogan of Woodbridge.
  • George Ichkitidze, 39, of 27-08 Whistler Drive, Freehold Township, was arrested on September 25 following an investigation that revealed he shared more than 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. He was charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials) and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Ichkitidze was released on the condition of home detention, no Internet usage and no contact with anyone under age 18. He is represented by attorney Kevin Clark of Ocean Township.
  • Thomas Vilanova, 49, of 133 Newbury Road, Howell, was charged on October 13 following an investigation that revealed that he possessed images of child sexual abuse material. He was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). Vilanova is currently on probation for a 2017 conviction for third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials). He is scheduled to appear before Judge Paul X. Escandon for a detention hearing on October 22. He is represented by attorney Michael Wenning of Bradley Beach.
  • Jamie Khan, 43, of 19 Oxford Drive, East Windsor, was charged on October 15 following an investigation that revealed he was viewing and sending child sexual abuse material while working for his employer in Freehold Township. The investigation further revealed that he was also in possession of child sexual abuse material at his home in East Windsor. Khan was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials). He was released on the condition of no Internet usage and no unsupervised contact with anyone under age 18.
  • A juvenile from Freehold Borough was arrested on September 11 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. The juvenile was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials).

If convicted of the first-degree endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, and would be required to register under Megan’s Law and be subject to parole supervision for life. If convicted of the second-degree endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and would be required to register under Megan’s Law and be subject to parole supervision for life. If convicted of the third-degree endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of five years in New Jersey State Prison and parole supervision for life. A conviction for disorderly persons possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana holds a maximum sentence of six months incarceration.

Ichkitidze’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer of the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit; the remaining cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan of the Computer Crimes Unit.

During the sweep, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested individuals. Assisting in this operation were members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU), the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes members from the following police departments: Eatontown, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune., Spring Lake, Tinton Falls and Holmdel. Support was also provided by the Asbury Park, Aberdeen, Middletown, Highlands, Freehold Township and Freehold Borough police departments.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by federal and state law.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.

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