Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Child Porn Sting Nets 25

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Child Porn Sting Nets 25

Article excerpt

Six men from Bergen and Passaic counties were among 25 people across the state charged with possessing and distributing child pornography after an investigation that involved high-tech computer tracking, state law enforcement authorities announced Wednesday.

The arrests came after a three-month investigation of state residents who allegedly used the Internet to share photographs and videos of children being raped, said state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.

The images, Chiesa said, largely depict sexual assaults against young children, or children being coerced into performing sexual acts on themselves or others. None of the suspects is charged with producing the images.

"I won't mince words. The videos we're talking about are largely the rape of young children," he said at a news conference. "It's hard to describe."

They depicted children ranging in age from infancy to 10 years old, said Detective Sgt. John Gorman of the New Jersey State Police. He said investigators don't know whether any of the photos or videos were made in New Jersey, but that they were produced in various locations across the nation, with some coming from other countries.

This was the second major child pornography sweep by the state police in less than a year, and comes as law enforcement officials appear to be making more child pornography arrests in North Jersey and elsewhere.

The men were arrested over the past week after an investigation that involved examining files as they were being transferred over the Internet, and identifying unique "digital fingerprints" to determine whether they contained child pornography, Chiesa said. Investigators then traced those files to computers in New Jersey.

Investigators executed search warrants over the past week, seizing computers containing illegal images and videos, Chiesa said.

Authorities said 24 men -- including five from Bergen County and one from Passaic County -- and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in the sweep. The oldest is 66. They face second-degree charges for allegedly distributing child pornography and fourth-degree charges for allegedly possessing it. Each distribution count carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. A similar operation last April led to 28 arrests.

Five of the suspects had contact with children, and two regularly acted as baby sitters, Chiesa said. Authorities did not specify which of the suspects fell into this category, saying they had yet to determine whether any of those children had been abused.

One of the suspects, Stephen Rainone, 27, of South Amboy, is a registered sex offender who was sentenced in 2005 to four years in prison for endangering the welfare of a child.

Many of the suspects were released after making bail, but two were being held in the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack on Wednesday. …

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