N.J. charges 40 men in statewide child porn sweep

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One man, Pitman resident John Defay Jr., had 76,000 files of child pornography on his computers when authorities caught up with him in July, according to New Jersey’s attorney general.

Another, Shawn Bovasso, had more than 5,000 files of child pornography and two assault weapons in his Howell home when he was arrest, the state’s top prosecutor said.

All told, authorities have nabbed 40 men since February in a Garden State child pornography sweep known as Operation Statewide.

“It doesn’t matter where you live, whether you think you can hide your crimes by viewing these vile images in the dark seclusion of your home,” said state Attorney General Christopher Porrino at a Thursday press conference announcing the arrests. “We’re monitoring you on the internet, and we will track you down and arrest you.”

All 40 men have been charged with possession of child pornography.

All but three of those men have also been charged with distribution of child pornography, which can carry steeper prison sentences.

The N.J. Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force helmed the operation, which also included federal, county, and local law enforcement authorities.

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The suspects, who range in age from 20 to 72, include construction and factory workers, technology professionals, an accountant, a former teacher, and a custodian working in the Long Branch School District.

Porrino said he was not aware of any pleas entered by the defendants, adding that more charges and arrests are likely as the investigation continues.

Officials also emphasized that they would not stop targeting viewers of child pornography simply because this operation zeroed in on the distributors.

“While we largely focus upon the most egregious and dangerous offenders who manufacture and distribute child pornography, those who choose to simply download would be ill advised, ill advised to assume that their actions are hidden off in the shadows,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

Authorities urge tipsters who suspect any crimes against children to contact the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

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