NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A former fire commissioner for Franklin Township could spend as many as 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of a sex crimes spree.
Thomas Canales, 39 of Franklin Township, was found guilty of seven counts by a jury, including sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.
The guilty finding comes two years after Canales was found not guilty by a Somerset County jury in a separate case, where he was charged with sexually assaulting two girls in his home between 2007 and 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, Canales served as fire commissioner for Franklin Township District 3, and afterwards, as a volunteer for the East Franklin Fire Department.
Canales’ crime spree across Middlesex County occurred between mid-April and late August 2016, Carey said.
Canales exposed himself to an 11-year-old North Brunswick girl on April 19 and a seven-year-old New Brunswick girl on July 3, Carey said.
On Aug. 25, Canales improperly touched a 32-year-old woman at the playground of an Edison apartment complex, Carey said, and on Aug. 28 he improperly touched an 11-year-old Highland Park girl.
Canales was arrested on Sept. 1, 2016 at his South Lawrence Avenue home in the Somerset section of Franklin Township in connection with the incident, according to Carey.
Canales also faces ongoing charges of computer theft, Carey said. Canales allegedly installed a surveillance system in the computer of a private resident, Carey said, and then monitored that person through his own cell phone and computer.
The spying took place while he was owned of the “Scope It Out” computer security company, based out of the Somerset section of Franklin, Carey said.
Canales’ sentencing is scheduled for May 11, 2018 before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Colleen Flynn. After Canales’ release from prison, he would have to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and undergo parole for life.