TRENTON, N.J. – A New Jersey man was sentenced Friday to three years in state prison for distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography. The sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
Aaron N. Debarardnis, 26, of Lower Township, was arrested July 26, 2012, and pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to using a file-sharing network to distribute images and videos of child pornography online from his home computer.
"Debarardnis demonstrated a callous disregard for the young victims in the thousands of images and videos he distributed on the Internet," said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "He will now pay the price for his actions, as HSI continues to track down and bring child predators to justice."
"While there are those who offensively contend that viewing and sharing child pornography online is a victimless crime, the reality is that it causes perpetual, grievous harm to some of our youngest and most vulnerable crime victims," said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. "We will continue to make these cases a top priority."
"We are using cutting-edge technology to detect these offenders on the Internet," said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. "We will continue to partner with our state and federal partners to take these predators off the streets and put them in prison."
According to court documents, in August and September 2011, HSI special agents traced child pornography to a computer in Debarardnis’ mobile home. Debarardnis made more than 1,000 files of child pornography available for other users to download from a designated shared folder on his computer.
In October 2011, special agents approached Debarardnis at his residence and seized two computers. A forensic examination of the computers revealed hundreds of videos and thousands of images of child pornography.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.