NEW JERSEY– Sixteen people from across the state were charged recently with sharing child pornography, including videos of young children being raped, said authorities. One of the men arrested was from from neighboring Summit, NJ.
The arrests were made as part of “Operation Safeguard,” a joint operation by local, state and federal investigators, said Acting State Attorney General Robert Lougy.
He said the widespread probe snagged people who used an online file-sharing network to download and distribute the child pornography.
One of the arrested was Thomas Guzzi 36, of Pitman, a fifth-grade teacher in the Vineland school district, who is accused of not only sharing the pornography but also of hiding a tablet computer in a bathroom to record video of people using the toilet, said Lougy.
The arrests, made between Feb. 10 and March 31, were based on an investigation that revealed more than 100 files of child pornography on Guzzi’s personal computer, said officials. They said Guzzi “participated in drama productions involving children as the drama club advisor at the school and as stage manager at the Broadway Theatre of Pitman.” It was in a bathroom at the theater that Guzzi hid the tablet, said Lougy, who noted a video found on Guzzi’s computer showed him installing the camera.
Agents also downloaded 27 files of child pornography from a shared folder on the personal computer of Eugene Triston, a bus driver for the Sparta school district, said Lougy. Triston, 55, is accused of viewing child pornography on breaks between bus runs, which included driving elementary school children, he said.
Additionally, authorities said a 17-year-old high school student from Hudson County had 122 files of suspected child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. They said the juvenile sold the illegal material to people he met online in exchange for Amazon gift cards.
Another person charged is a senior information technology officer for an insurance company in Jersey City. That man, Shaun Dooley of Summit NJ, had 220 files of suspected child pornography on his computer, said Lougy.
He said Andres Tejada-Diaz, described as a factory worker from Kearny, had 168 files of child pornography in a shared folder on his computer. “Investigators found a locked suitcase filled with sex toys and underwear for little girls when they executed a search warrant at his home,” said Lougy.
Also charged were John Wilms, 46, of Mount Holly, Robert Kunert, 22, of Hamilton, Matthew Dieterman, 32, of Piscataway, Oziel Hernandez Sandoval, 27, of Piscataway, Bernard Rapp, 72, of Southampton, Germin Simon, 34, of South Plainfield, William Morgan, 59, of Manalapan, Christian Martinez-Gonzalez, 34, of East Windsor, Brandon Weiss, 42, of Burlington Township and Armando Gonzalez-Longorio, 70, of Elizabeth, said authorities.
“Distribution of child pornography steals the innocence of children and destroys lives,” said Terence Opiola, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, which participated in the probe. “HSI special agents will continue to work tirelessly with our state and local partners in operations like this one to track down the perpetrators of these terrible crimes and ensure that they face prosecution.”
State Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said purveyors of child pornography should beware. “By sharing and recirculating videos of child pornography, these offenders perpetually re-victimize the innocent children who are sexually assaulted to produce them,” said Honig. “With these operations, we’re putting child pornography users on notice that we have infiltrated their file-sharing networks and chat rooms, and we will trace these crimes right to their doors.”
Lougy also had harsh words for the suspects, calling them “depraved” and vowing law enforcement will continue to seek them out.
“These defendants come from all walks of life, but they allegedly share a depraved desire to see children being raped and sexually exploited,” said Lougy. “By viewing and distributing child pornography, particularly the child rape videos targeted in this operation, these offenders directly motivate and put themselves in league with the predators who torture children to create these repulsive materials. Through sweeps like Operation Safeguard, we send a powerful message that these are very serious crimes and we are determined to put those who commit them behind bars.”
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Safeguard,” involved a vast number of law enforcement agencies, including the Roselle Police Department, said Lougy.