STANHOPE, NJ – A borough man who works as a school bus driver in Sparta was one of 16 people from across the state charged recently with sharing child pornography taken from a file sharing service that included videos of young children being raped, said authorities today.
The man, Eugene Triston, 55, was arrested as part of “Operation Safeguard,” a joint operation by local, state and federal investigators, said Acting State Attorney General Robert Lougy. Triston, arrested Feb. 10, was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography and jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to Lougy.
Triston is accused of downloading 27 child pornography files, said authorities. He “viewed child pornography on breaks between bus runs, which included driving elementary school children,” said Lougy.
Sparta School District Business Administrator Barbara Decker said Triston was a contract driver for the Byram Bus company. “He was immediately removed from working in Sparta,” she said. “We were aware in February when he was arrested and was relieved of his duties and has not driven for Sparta since that day. We notified the parents immediately. None of the Sparta children were endangered or exposed that we are aware of.”
A statement released today by Sparta Schools Superintendent Dennis Tobin said, “The New Jersey Department of Criminal Defense did inform the school district that none of the allegations involved any students from within the Sparta community.”
The statement went on to say, “The Sparta School District was obviously shocked and dismayed at the news; however, we remain resolute in the fact that the safety and security of our students and staff is of the utmost importance.”
Decker said, “The background-checks security system that we have in place worked really well. We were notified immediately” of Triston’s arrest.
The so-called “Raptor” system has been in place in the Sparta school district for nearly a year. The system screens anyone who has contact with the district’s children, using software that is linked to law enforcement databases including the Department of Justice.
Tim Grogan, route manager for the Byram Bus Line, said Triston was “no longer employed” at the company.
Another person arrested was Thomas Guzzy, 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 arrest was 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.
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, 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.
All 16 defendants were charged with second-degree distribution of child pornography, which carries a sentence of five to ten years in state prison, and third-degree possession of child pornography, which carries a sentence of three to five years in prison, said Lougy.
“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, said Lougy.