BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ -- Burlington County law enforcement is not taking their eye off of the safety and well-being of children during the on-going COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic as evidenced by "Operation Safe Quarantine" led by County Prosecutor Scott Coffina. Under the months long investigation, eight individuals have been charged with possessing and distributing child pornography.
The Burlington County Prosecutors Office (BCPO) received 52 cybertips from March 17 through July 16 compared with 29 cybertips during roughly the same time last year.
Statewide, from March 1 through May 23, 2019, the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received 760 cybertips. During the period following the onset of the COVID crisis, there were 2,240, almost three times as many.
“Those who believe the anonymity of cyberspace will mask their illegal activity could not be more mistaken,” Coffina said. “As illustrated by these arrests, we know how to find you, apprehend you, and hold you accountable for endangering innocent children as a means of seeking your depraved gratification.”
The Burlington County Prosecutor office is working in conjunction with United States Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge - Newark Richard Reinhold, and Cinnaminson Police Department on "Operation Safe Quarantine."
Always a priority of the BCPO, and our partners in this endeavor, the investigation of these cases took on added urgency during the mass quarantine associated with the COVID public health crisis. The resulting dramatic increase in Internet activity throughout the state increased opportunities for sexual exploitation of children online.
Beginning in mid-May, this cooperative operation has resulted in the following arrests:
• John Au, 30, of Hackemore Street in Burlington Township, has been charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and possessing and distributing child pornography;
• Ronald Bussell, 71, of Shamrock Lane in Marlton, is charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and possessing and distributing child pornography;
• John J. Cavanaugh, 51, of Kings Highway in Maple Shade, is charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and possessing and distributing child pornography;
• Louis Cipparone, 47, of Stacy Court in Burlington City, was charged June 2 with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and with sending and receiving child pornography on multiple social media accounts;
• Donald Ebner, 63, of Dove Court in Lumberton, who works as janitor at the Delran Intermediate School, was charged June 16 with endangering the welfare of a child and possessed more than 1,000 child pornography images;
• Myles Doyle, 33, of Fieldcrest Drive in Westampton, is charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and possessing and distributing child pornography, including images of infants and toddlers;
• Andrew Marinari, 27, of Lenape Trail in Medford Lakes, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and providing obscene material to persons Under 18, possessing child pornography, showing it to people under 18 years of age, and engaging in sexually explicit conversations with numerous juveniles on social media platforms;
• Ryan Fischer, 29, of Canal Road in South Bound Brook, pled guilty last week to attempted endangering the welfare of a child (impairing or debauching). Fischer, who was charged in March, allegedly sent pictures of his genitals and videos of himself masturbating to an alleged 14-year-old girl, who was an undercover detective from the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit. He attempted to arrange a meeting at a Bordentown Township motel to have sex with the girl.
“The worldwide tragedy of COVID has impacted our lives in countless ways, upending our daily routines, including our children’s ability to attend school in person,” said Reinhold. “With children spending more time online for school and entertainment, it is unthinkable that perpetrators would try to take advantage of this difficult time to exploit our most vulnerable citizens.
"However, this is the reality we confront across our state, and why Operation Safe Quarantine is so important," added Reinhold.
Coffina expressed his appreciation for the effective work of the investigators from all of the agencies involved in Operation Safe Quarantine.
“I am extremely grateful to our detectives, command staff and assistant prosecutors, as well as our superb law enforcement partners, for advancing these investigations despite all of the challenges and disruption to operations that the pandemic has presented,” Coffina said.
"Operation Safe Quarantine" remains active, and numerous additional arrests are expected in the coming weeks.