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South River man found guilty in federal court for possession of child pornography

TRENTON – A South River man was found guilty of allegedly receiving child pornography, soliciting child pornography, possessing prepubescent child pornography and concealing objects to impede the FBI’s investigation against him, according to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court found Charles F. Browne, 52, guilty following a six-day trial on June 27.

The counts of receipt of child pornography and solicitation of child pornography each carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and fine of $250,000, according to a press release through the U.S. Attorney District of New Jersey’s Office on June 28.

The count of possession of prepubescent child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The count of concealing objects to impede a federal investigation count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the press release.

Sentencing for Browne is scheduled for Nov. 9.

In Sept. 2017, a cloud-based file service noticed that apparent child sex abuse material had been allegedly uploaded to, and maintained in, an account with the screen name “Charles Browne” and an email address containing the term “cbrowne.” The FBI obtained the files that were uploaded to the online account, which included prepubescent child pornography and two copies of Browne’s resume, according to documents filed in the case and the evidence at trial.

On April 8, 2019, law enforcement officers stopped Browne’s vehicle as he left his residence. Brown was given a Miranda warning and interviewed by law enforcement officers about the FBI’s ongoing child exploitation investigation. Browne initially denied having an iPad and then, in response to the agent’s question at the conclusion of the interview asking where his iPad was, responded that it was at home, which was approximately one mile away, according to documents.

Law enforcement officers told Browne that an online file account contained two images of prepubescent child sexual abuse created by an Apple iPhone Model 5C camera. Browne allegedly denied knowledge of the child pornography. At the conclusion of the interview, Browne was dropped off at his vehicle, which was locked, according to documents.

At trial, Browne confessed that he broke into his vehicle after the FBI interview, removed an iPad and his iPhone, and then walked to a local private beach club. Browne was observed by a neighbor as he walked to the end of the dock and threw his iPad and iPhone into the bay, according to documents.

After Browne returned to his residence without his electronic devices, the FBI conducted a canvass of the area and located the neighbor who had observed Browne throwing his iPad into the bay. The FBI sent in a dive team, which recovered Browne’s iPad and iPhone – an Apple Model 5C – from the bay, according to documents.

The devices were repaired; review of the data recovered from the devices revealed videos and images of child sexual abuse. Web history from the iPad reflected that Browne allegedly had sought out images of child sexual abuse on the iPad the day before law enforcement officers interviewed Browne. Evidence from Browne’s iPad and iPhone reflected that Browne sent emails to others seeking child pornography “vids,” according to documents.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI; the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office; the Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office; the Ocean County Sherriff’s Office; the Tom’s River Police Department; the South River Police Department; and the Manalapan Township Police Department.

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