TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former president of the Dunellen Board of Education was sentenced today for possessing numerous files of child pornography on his personal computers.
Phillip C. Heiney, 69, of Dunellen, was sentenced to four years of probation by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. The state recommended a jail term of up to six months under the plea agreement, but the judge imposed a sentence of non-custodial probation, subject to conditions including required therapy, no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18, and submission to monitoring of his electronic devices by probation officers. Heiney pleaded guilty on Feb. 26 to third-degree possession of child pornography.
Deputy Attorney General Marie McGovern prosecuted Heiney and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. He was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
A detective in the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit was monitoring a peer-to-peer file-sharing network popular with offenders who trade child pornography when he identified a computer address that was offering multiple files of child pornography for any user to download from a shared folder. The detective downloaded two videos from the shared folder in which adult males engaged in sexual acts with prepubescent girls. The IP address sharing the child pornography was traced to Heiney’s residence. The State Police referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada subsequently alerted the Division of Criminal Justice that they had downloaded a video from a shared folder at Heiney’s IP address showing a man engaging in a sexual act with a prepubescent girl who was blindfolded and bound with rope.
Heiney was arrested on Aug. 23, 2016, when detectives and agents from the Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations executed a search warrant at his home and found numerous images and videos of child pornography on his computer equipment. The Dunellen Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assisted in the operation.
“Anyone who contributes to the brutal sexual exploitation of children by collecting child pornography has no business overseeing the education of young students,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Thankfully, through our proactive investigative efforts, he was caught and brought to justice.”
“Like so many of these offenders, Heiney was living a double life, hiding his deviant criminal conduct behind a respectable front,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These offenders come from all walks of life and often are exposed only when they are caught in the dragnet of our online investigations.”
“The conviction and sentencing in this case should serve as notice to all who view, share, and post child pornography on the internet. The law enforcement community will work together and remain vigilant in pursuing, arresting, and convicting persons engaged in this sick behavior,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend the efforts of our detectives from the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and all our law enforcement partners involved in this investigation and prosecution.”
Attorney General Grewal commended the prosecuting attorneys, all of the members of the ICAC Task Force, and the agents and officers from assisting agencies who participated in the investigation.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the Internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children online or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force tip line at 888-648-6007.
William D. Ware, Esq., Chester, N.J.
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