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Task force investigations result in 14 arrests and two sentencings

A series of investigations led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and the Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force has resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals since January and also two recent sentencings in court, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced on Aug. 11.

The majority of these investigations originated via CyberTips that were forwarded to the prosecutor’s office by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The tips revealed the following defendants allegedly used social media platforms to possess child sexual abuse material, according to a press release from the prosecutor’s office.

The following individuals have been criminally charged with the following:

• Earl Grant, 40, of Neptune, was arrested on Jan. 21 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Michael Hernandez, 21, of Colts Neck, was arrested on Feb. 24 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Stephen Galiatsatos, 38, Neptune Township, was arrested on March 10 and is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Jeffery Hitt, 74, of Middletown, was arrested on March 21 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials) and one count of endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials);

• Michael Mezzina, 61, of Holmdel, was arrested on March 29 after the Holmdel Police Department received a report from an electronics store employee that child sexual abuse materials were found on a laptop computer Mezzina dropped off for repair. Mezzina was charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• William Grimmer, 58, of Ocean Township, was arrested on April 21 and charged with third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Yang Chen, 27, of Aberdeen Township, was arrested on April 14 and is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Ryan Cutaneo, 22, of Howell, was arrested on April 28 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Calvin Martinez, 31, of Ocean Township, was arrested on May 12 and is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Santiago Reyes-Carrada, 30, of Keyport, was arrested on May 5 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Brian Flynn, 31, of Hazlet, was arrested on May 24 following an investigation which revealed he allegedly used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to create child pornography files available to others online. Flynn is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, second degree (distribution of child sexual abuse materials) and one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Kenneth Ayala, 21, of Hazlet, was arrested on May 25 and is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Osama Hassaballa, 37, of Ocean Township, was arrested on June 9 and is charged with one count of third degree endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child sexual abuse materials);

• Brian Picardi, 60, of Keansburg, was arrested on June 16 and is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (child sexual abuse materials).

Those investigations were referred from the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has been an affiliate member of ICAC since 2020, according to the press release.

From the beginning of 2020 to present, approximately 550 CyberTips have resulted in 77 arrests in Monmouth County.

Convictions on second degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to 10 years in state prison; convictions on third degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years. Either would also result in a defendant being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned parole supervision for life, according to the press release.

Linskey also announced the sentencing of two defendants, both of which took place on July 29 in front of state Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley, sitting in Freehold.

John V. Catalano, 36, of Freehold Township, was sentenced to five years in state prison for second degree endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child sexual abuse materials).

Catalano’s sentence includes two-and-a-half years of mandatory parole ineligibility and mandatory Megan’s Law registration. He pleaded guilty to the second degree charge on Feb. 9.

The second sentencing involved Barton Cross-Tierney II, 32, of Ocean Township. He received three years for third degree endangering the welfare of a child and three years for third degree exhibiting obscenity to a minor. The two sentences will run concurrently.

Upon release, Cross-Tierney faces mandatory Megan’s Law registration and parole supervision for life. Cross-Tierney pleaded guilty to the two charges on Feb. 9, according to the press release.

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