Police & Fire

Feds Arraign Branchburg Man on Child Porn Charges

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TRENTON, N.J. – A Branchburg man recently appeared in federal court in New Jersey to face charges for his alleged role in a conspiracy to produce sexually explicit images of children through a website he operated from his home computer, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jonathan Soto, 26, was arraigned before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court and pleaded not guilty to both counts of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to produce child pornography and possession of child pornography. He was previously arrested and charged by federal complaint on April 16, 2015, and remains in federal custody pending the charges.

According to the indictment:

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From July 2014 through April 2015, Soto allegedly administered and operated a website designed to produce child pornography by tricking minor victims into engaging in sexually explicit activity on web cameras. Users of the website created false profiles on popular social media websites purporting to be young children, aged from about 10 to 16.

Using these false profiles, the users chatted with actual minor children and lured the minor victims to other websites to engage in private chats, according to the charges. Once in a private chat room, users then persuaded child victims to engage in sexually explicit activity. Unbeknownst to the victims, when they engaged in sexually explicit activity, they were secretly recorded, and those videos were allegedly shared with other users on Soto’s website.

FBI special agents executed a search warrant at Soto’s residence on or about April 15, 2015, and allegedly discovered computer equipment containing multiple videos of child pornography which had been downloaded from Soto’s website.

The conspiracy to produce child pornography count carries a minimum penalty of fifteen years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of thirty years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, Fishman's announcement said. The possession of child pornography count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, he added.

In his announcement, Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and the Branchburg Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Young, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Wangenheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark. Assistant Federal Public Defender Lisa Mack of Newark is defense counsel for the accused.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

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