|TRENTON - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Hudson County man pleaded guilty today to offering child pornography on the Internet. He was among 27 defendants arrested in 2012 as a result of “Operation Watchdog,” a multi-agency investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice that targeted offenders who distributed known images and videos of child pornography on the Internet.
John T. Kondes, 58, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty today to an accusation charging him with second-degree offering of child pornography and fourth-degree possession of child pornography before Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez in Hudson County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Kondes be sentenced to four years in state prison. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. Deputy Attorney General Naju Lathia prosecuted Kondes and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Judge Galis-Menendez scheduled sentencing for Kondes for Sept. 12.
In pleading guilty, Kondes admitted that prior to his arrest on April 11, 2012, he knowingly used Internet file sharing software to make one or more files containing child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a designated “shared folder” on his computer. A search warrant executed by the New Jersey State Police at Kondes’ residence revealed a huge library of child pornography, including video clips and photographic images, on his computer and stored on compact discs. Detectives seized numerous compact discs containing more than 90,000 files of child pornography, which had been downloaded over a period extending back more than 15 years.
“Offenders like Kondes share in the horrific victimization of children, directly fueling the demand that motivates child predators to sexually abuse children and to record their heinous acts, so that the violation continues in perpetuity on the Internet,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’re working hard to arrest these offenders and send them to prison.”
“Our message to those like Kondes who join these networks of users and sharers of child pornography is that we’ve got a line on you and we’re going to send you to prison,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The same technology that gives you access to these vile images gives law enforcement access to you and evidence of your crimes.”
Kondes was charged in Operation Watchdog, a multi-agency investigation in which one woman and 26 men were arrested in March and April of 2012 on charges of distribution and possession of child pornography. The State Police Digital Technology Investigation Unit coordinated the investigation, which also involved the Division of Criminal Justice and 19 other law enforcement agencies.
Detectives linked all of the defendants to alleged use of the Internet to download and distribute images of child pornography. Peer to Peer, or P2P, file sharing networks play a major role in the distribution of child pornography. There is a large library of images and videos known to law enforcement, and these electronic files can be traced in various ways on the Internet. Detectives involved in Operation Watchdog tracked transferred files to their origin and destination locations.
All of the New Jersey agencies that partnered in Operation Watchdog are members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Additionally, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI assisted with the investigation and execution of warrants. Acting Attorney General Hoffman also thanked members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office for their valuable assistance.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the Internet or who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.