NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An Old Saybrook man pleaded guilty yesterday to trading child pornography on the Internet after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Joseph N. Rock, 40, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography.
According to documents filed with the court and statements made in court, ICE agents in New Haven began an investigation of Rock after receiving information from an ICE agent in Fresno, Calif., that Rock had engaged in online communications with a target of a Fresno-based child pornography investigation. On Jan. 16, 2008, ICE agents interviewed Rock at his residence and obtained consent to search his computer. When questioned by agents on that date, Rock admitted that he sent and received images of child pornography over the Internet, and that he engaged in explicit online instant message chats related to the sexual exploitation of children.
Subsequent analysis of Rock's computer equipment revealed the existence of more than 600 images of child pornography, including images of children under the age of 12.
Rock's sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 14, 2009, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and a fine of up to $250,000, and a minimum period of supervised release of five years.
Rock has been detained in federal custody since September 2008.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals through Operation Predator.
ICE encourages the pubic to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child exploitation or missing children may be reporter to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-822-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.