TRENTON - Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a man was indicted today on charges of extortion and manufacturing child pornography for allegedly using the Internet to blackmail five young teenage girls across the United States into posing nude and engaging in sexual conduct on web cameras while he recorded them.
Daniel Derringer III, 28, of Lake Worth, Fla., formerly of Union City, N.J., was indicted today by a state grand jury on the following charges:
- Manufacturing Child Pornography (Four Counts, 2nd degree),
- Extortion (Five Counts, 2nd degree),
- Distribution of Child Pornography (One Count, 2nd degree),
- Promoting Obscene Material to a Person Under 18 (Four Counts, 3rd degree),
- Debauching the Morals of a Child (Three Counts, 3rd degree), and
- Possession of Child Pornography (One Count, 4th degree).
The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Three of the victims were 15 at the time of the alleged offenses, and one was 14. The fifth victim was 16 at the time. Under the statutes in effect at the time, a child was defined as under 16 for purposes of the state’s child pornography law; now the law defines a child as under 18.
“Derringer allegedly is a serial sexual predator who used the anonymity of the Internet to exploit underage girls, deceiving and threatening his victims to force them to comply with his deviant demands,” said Attorney General Porrino. “He represents the darkest side of the Internet and every parent’s nightmare. Thanks to the courage of the victim who came forward and the excellent work of our investigators, we uncovered more of Derringer’s alleged crimes and have indicted him on serious criminal charges.”
“We’ve made child protection a top priority and will continue our aggressive efforts to investigate and prosecute Internet predators and child pornography offenders, in collaboration with the New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement partners,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This case graphically illustrates the dangers of the Internet and the need for parents to be vigilant and keep the lines of communication open with their children.”
“Derringer allegedly manipulated, extorted and intimidated children across the country to satisfy his sickening impulses,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Internet crimes know no boundaries or state lines, but thanks to cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigations like this, online child predators have no place to hide.”
The investigation began when a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota reported to local police that she had been coerced into engaging in sexual conduct on a webcam by a person who contacted her online through a social networking site, claiming to be another girl of the same age. The person, who investigators allege was Derringer, transmitted a video of an underage girl touching herself in a sexual manner to make the victim believe she was seeing the girl who was chatting with her. He allegedly convinced the victim to take off her top and expose her breasts in front of her webcam. Derringer allegedly recorded the act. He then allegedly got on his own webcam, revealing that he had been lying about his identity, and told her that if she didn’t do as he told her, he would post the video of her exposing her breasts on the Internet. Derringer allegedly ordered the girl to disrobe. He then allegedly demanded that she touch herself in a sexual manner and assume various poses to better expose herself. Meanwhile, Derringer allegedly masturbated and exposed his genitals to the girl via his webcam. He also allegedly showed her sexually explicit videos of other young girls.
The victim used her cell phone to take a photo of her computer screen with her assailant’s face visible, and police in Minnesota traced the communications to the address of Derringer, who was living in New Jersey at that time. They alerted the New Jersey State Police. The State Police matched the photo taken by the victim with Derringer. The State Police executed a search warrant on April 4, 2013 at Derringer’s residence in Union City and seized computer equipment. Derringer was arrested by the Union City Police three days later when he returned from a trip out of state.
Forensic examination of the computer equipment seized from Derringer revealed numerous videos of incidents similar to that which the Minnesota girl reported to the police. Detectives, working with other law enforcement agencies across the U.S., were able to identify four additional alleged victims in Washington State, Florida, Indiana and Ohio who were subsequently interviewed. The investigation revealed that Derringer allegedly used similar methods with those victims, meeting them on chat sites and posing as a girl to convince them to expose and in some cases touch themselves on webcams while he secretly recorded them. As in the first case, Derringer used videos of underage girls engaging in sexual conduct to trick the victims into believing he was a girl and encourage them to engage in further sexual conduct. It is alleged that he then made threats to the victims to coerce them into engaging in more sexually explicit acts, usually threatening to post online the videos he already obtained. In most of these cases, he allegedly remained disguised as a female, but in one case he revealed his identity as a man once he began making threats.
Deputy Attorney General Lilianne Daniel presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit, within the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Julia Glass and Bureau Chief Michael Monahan. Attorney General Porrino commended the detectives who conducted the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Derringer’s offenses occurred before August 2013, when Governor Christie signed a new child pornography law that made possession of child pornography a third-degree offense and substantially enhanced the penalties for those who possess, distribute or manufacture child pornography.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Timothy P. Lydon in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Hudson County, where Derringer will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.