Several area residents tied to child pornography ring

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Several area residents tied to child pornography ring

Jennifer Amato, Managing Editor
Several area residents – including a police officer who lives in South Brunswick and a Hazlet swim coach – are among 79 child predators and child pornography offenders who have been charged in “Operation Safety Net.”
The nine-month, multi-agency child protection initiative led by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force targeted sex offenders who exploited the internet and social media, making arrests in every New Jersey county and deploying, for the first time, a new van equipped as a mobile cyber forensics lab, as well as a new canine trained to sniff out electronic devices, to assist in execution of search warrants, according to a statement released by Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino on Dec. 1.
Locally, Craig Kirschner, 39, of Marlboro, was charged by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office with luring a child, attempted sexual assault of a minor, and conveying obscene material to a minor. Kirschner allegedly solicited an undercover detective, whom he believed to be a 15-year-old male, to meet for oral sex. The detective was monitoring a mobile app when he encountered Kirschner, according to the statement.
Laurence Duque, 42, of the Dayton section of South Brunswick; and Gregory Piszczek, 35, of Woodbridge, an IT professional, each allegedly had more than 4,000 files of suspected child pornography.
Paul Marinelli, 52, of South Brunswick, who is a Trenton police officer; James Cutrone, 54, of Hazlet, who is a youth swim coach; Dhanendhran Govender, 32, of East Windsor; Daniel Braz, 39, of South River; Brian Neilson, 55, of Metuchen; and Nicholas J. Novak, 66, of Ocean Township, were all charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Those arrested in Operation Safety Net included 10 “hands-on” offenders, including child predators in California and Indiana who allegedly tried to have children transported interstate from New Jersey by adult traffickers; four men in New Jersey who allegedly sought to lure children; a camp counselor who allegedly sexually assaulted a girl, 14, under his supervision; a youth minister who allegedly sent lewd photos of himself to a young girl; and a man, 24, who allegedly used a phone app to record underage girls.
“The men we arrested lurked in the shadows of the internet and social media, looking for opportunities to sexually assault young children or to view such unspeakable assaults by sharing child pornography,” Porrino said in the statement. “We set up a wide safety net in this operation to snare these alleged predators and to protect children, which remains our highest priority. With our new mobile forensics lab and electronics-sniffing dog, we’re even better equipped to uncover the evidence that will keep these offenders behind bars, where they cannot threaten or further exploit vulnerable victims.
“We charged 10 men with hands-on predatory conduct against children, including attempted interstate trafficking of children for sex, sexual assault, luring, sending obscene images to a child, or manufacturing child pornography,” Porrino said in the statement. “These cases highlight the fact that viewing child pornography is part of a continuum of deviant behavior that often leads to or drives other sex crimes.”
Forty-one defendants are charged with second-degree distribution of child pornography, which carries a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, and 66 defendants are charged with third-degree possession of child pornography, which carries a sentence of three to five years in prison. Out of the 41 charged with distribution, six are charged with distributing 25 items or more, and therefore are subject, if convicted, to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison under the strict child pornography law signed by Gov. Chris Christie in August 2013. Out of the 66 defendants charged with possession, 25 are charged with possession of 100 or more items and are subject to a presumption of imprisonment under that law, even if they have no prior criminal record. More of the defendants may face those enhanced charges and penalties once full forensic examinations of their computers and electronic devices are completed, according to the statement.