TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that the former chief of the Audubon Park Volunteer Fire Company in Camden County, N.J., pleaded guilty today to using a computer at the fire station to share child pornography online using a peer-to-peer file-sharing network.
John Terruso, 46, of Marlton, N.J., former chief of the Audubon Park Volunteer Fire Company, pleaded guilty today to charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of 100 or more files of child pornography before Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Terruso be sentenced to six years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. He also will be permanently barred from public office and employment. Sentencing for Terruso is scheduled for Aug. 25.
Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo prosecuted Terruso and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
In pleading guilty, Terruso admitted that he knowingly used Internet file-sharing software to make multiple files of child pornography available for any other user to download from “shared folders” that he controlled on a computer at the fire station on Road C. Terruso was arrested on June 10, 2015 at the fire station, where investigators executed a search warrant and discovered more than 1,000 files of suspected child pornography on computer equipment used by Terruso. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations Newark, assisted by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Haddon Township Police Department. The investigation began when a special agent of HSI was monitoring a file-sharing network and identified an Internet Protocol address, ultimately traced to a computer at the fire station, which had child pornography available in a shared folder, including videos of prepubescent girls engaging in sexual acts with adult males, as well as videos of prepubescent boys having sex with other boys and adult males. Further investigation revealed Terruso was the person using the computers to share child pornography.
“Distribution of child pornography is an abhorrent crime that promotes and creates a market for the sexual exploitation of innocent children,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By using his position as fire chief to commit these crimes with computer equipment at the firehouse, Terruso betrayed the public and every standard of decency. This guilty plea ensures that he will pay a heavy price for his offenses.”
“The offenders who share child pornography online come from all walks of life, as this case highlights, but the horrible crime they commit against children remains the same,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to work closely with HSI, the State Police and our other law enforcement partners to expose these criminals wherever they may hide and bring them to justice.”
“The distribution of child pornography is a global problem with local impact. To discover that a public servant entrusted with protecting the community was instead engaging in activity that victimizes the most vulnerable members of our society is disturbing” said acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael of HSI Newark. “Let this case be a constant reminder that HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in New Jersey to pursue these criminals and bring them to justice.”
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo, Detective Richard DaSilva Jr., Detective Kimberly Allen and former Sgt. Thomas Turley, under the supervision of Lt. Lisa Shea, former Deputy Bureau Chief Kenneth Sharpe and Bureau Chief Michael Monahan.
Attorney General Porrino thanked ICE Homeland Security Investigations Newark for their work on the investigation. He also thanked the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Haddon Township Police Department for their extensive assistance, particularly Capt. Scott Bishop of the Haddon Township Police Department, and Sgt. Thomas DiNunzio and retired Detective Gary McBride of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
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.
Andrew Butchko, Esq., Helmer Conley & Kasselman, P.A., Somers Point, N.J.
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