TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that the former chief of the Audubon Park Volunteer Fire Company in Camden County, N.J., was sentenced to state prison today for 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, was sentenced to six years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden County. Terruso pleaded guilty on May 30 to charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of 100 or more files of child pornography. He must register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. He also is permanently barred from public office and employment.
Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo prosecuted Terruso and handled the sentencing hearing 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 engaging in sexual acts with other boys and adult males. Further investigation revealed Terruso was the person using the computers to share child pornography.
“A fire chief is supposed to be a guardian of public safety and a person children look up to, but Terruso instead used his position and public equipment to participate in the cruel exploitation of children by distributing child pornography,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This lengthy prison sentence is appropriate punishment for his vile betrayal.”
“The reality is that child pornography and those who share it can be found anywhere, as this case illustrates,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’re sending a message that we’ll find and punish these offenders, regardless of their status or position.”
“Victims are abused over and over with every view of a sexually explicit image or video of a minor,” acting Special Agent in Charge Debra Parker of HSI Newark. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice public officials who betray the trust of the community by engaging in unscrupulous behavior.”
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General 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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