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Child Exploitation
08/12/2010

Manhattan teacher arrested on child pornography charges

NEW YORK - A Manhattan fifth grade teacher was arrested here Thursday on federal charges of possessing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Preet Bharara, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, announced today the arrest of John E. Thomas on a charge of possessing child pornography.  Thomas, 28, was arrested this morning at his Manhattan residence by ICE HSI agents.  He is expected to be presented later today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.

"People who download and possess child pornography put our youth at risk," said Hayes. "This case is particularly troubling because of the suspect's position as someone young people look up to and respect. ICE will continue to work tirelessly to identify predators who seek to exploit the children of our communities and ensure that they are brought to justice."

According to the criminal complaint unsealed earlier today:

Thomas, who teaches fourth and fifth grade students during the year and was working as a summer day camp counselor prior to his arrest, possessed child pornography that had been downloaded from the Internet and saved onto CDs.  During a search of Thomas's residence conducted yesterday, approximately 43 CDs, containing at least six videos of minor children engaging in sexually explicit conduct, as well as Thomas's computer and other digital media, were seized.

Thomas is charged with one count of possessing child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of ICE.  He added that the investigation is continuing.

ICE encourages the public 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 sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office's General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Andrew Bauer is in charge of the prosecution.