|TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that an Ocean County man was sentenced to prison today for distributing child pornography on the Internet. He was arrested last year in “Operation Statewide,” a child pornography sweep by the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which includes the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and numerous state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
Fabian Maldonado-Espinosa, 32, of Lakewood, N.J., was sentenced today to five years in state prison, including 2 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County. Maldonado-Espinosa pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to second-degree distribution of child pornography. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo took the guilty plea and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
In pleading guilty, Maldonado-Espinosa admitted that he knowingly used file sharing software to make multiple files containing child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a “shared folder” on his computer. The New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) downloaded a video of child pornography from a shared folder on Maldonado-Espinosa’s computer while monitoring a peer-to-peer file-sharing network popular with sex offenders. The video showed a prepubescent girl performing a sexual act on an adult man. The computer address from which the video was downloaded was traced to Maldonado-Espinosa’s residence. He was arrested on July 20, 2016, when members of the State Police DTIU executed a search warrant at his residence and seized several devices, including laptop computers, hard drives and an iPad. A forensic exam of one of the laptops revealed multiple videos and images of child pornography in a shared folder.
“Operation Statewide highlighted how our ICAC Task Force enlists law enforcement throughout the state to arrest criminals who drive the cruel exploitation of children by sharing child pornography online,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This prison sentence reinforces our message to these offenders that no matter where they live or how they think they can hide this filth, we will put them behind bars.”
“We’re committed to using New Jersey’s tough child pornography laws to put offenders like Maldonado-Espinosa in prison for substantial prison terms,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through sweeps like Operation Statewide, we’ll continue our aggressive efforts to crack down on child pornography and the predators who distribute it.”
“As predators like Maldonado-Espinosa develop new ways of sharing these sordid pornographic images of young victims, our relationship with our law enforcement partners becomes even more important,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes. “Operation Statewide shows the effect of collaborative law enforcement partnerships and sends a clear message that we will continue to work together to protect our children from exploitation.”
Operation Statewide was a multi-agency child pornography sweep coordinated by the New Jersey State Police, as lead agency for the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, that led to arrests of 40 men last year, including defendants in every county of New Jersey. During the operation, investigators linked all of the defendants to alleged use of the Internet to download and distribute 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 downloaded child pornography that the defendants allegedly offered from their computers on P2P networks, tracing the files to their origin locations.
The file-sharing networks used by offenders to distribute child pornography operate in the same manner as websites used for privately sharing music or movies. Those in possession of the illegal images can make them available on computers that they control for others to download. Because many of these videos and photos of child pornography keep recirculating, they result in the perpetual re-victimization of the children who were sexually assaulted or abused to produce them.
Attorney General Porrino commended the detectives of the New Jersey State Police DTIU and members of the other agencies in the New Jersey ICAC Task Force who conducted Operation Statewide, as well as the attorneys who participated in the investigations and are prosecuting the cases.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig urged anyone with information about distribution of child pornography on the Internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Melissa Barbier, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Ocean County
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