Gerald D. Laphan, 28, of Mount Ephraim, N.J., was found guilty by a Camden County jury of charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography, second-degree offering of child pornography and fourth-degree possession of child pornography. The verdict followed a trial before Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden.
Deputy Attorney General Anand R. Shah and Deputy Attorney General Veronica Allende, Deputy Bureau Chief, tried Laphan for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The charges were contained in a Sept. 24, 2014 state grand jury indictment that was the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU), the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and other members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison. Laphan will be subject to registration under Megan’s Law as a sex offender. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18.
“Child pornography offenses are classified as child endangerment under our criminal code for good reason, because these offenders directly motivate the predators who sexually assault children to create these abhorrent materials,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Laphan and his kind put children in danger of being raped, tortured and sexually exploited so that they can watch. They belong in prison.”
“Armed with cutting-edge technology, we’re partnering with the State Police and other members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to build strong cases against those who use the Internet to sexually exploit children,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend our trial team and all of the investigators responsible for bringing Laphan to justice.”
“We will do everything within our power to make sure that the depraved individuals who choose to share these horrific videos and images are removed from society and put into prison where they belong,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend the outstanding investigative work of detectives in the Digital Technology Investigations Unit, who are at times tasked with handling these dark and disturbing cases.”
Laphan was arrested on March 7, 2012 by the New Jersey State Police and other members of the ICAC Task Force. The investigation began with a referral from the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. A Gloucester County detective initiated an investigation into peer-to-peer file sharing on a file-sharing network popular with offenders who trade child pornography. The detective identified a computer address that was offering multiple files of child pornography for any user to download using file-sharing software, and the detective successfully downloaded three videos of child pornography, including a video of an adult male raping a prepubescent girl.
The computer address was traced to Laphan’s residence in Mount Ephraim. At the time of his arrest, DTIU detectives, assisted by the State Police TEAMS South Unit and other ICAC Task Force members, executed a search warrant at Laphan’s home and seized two laptop computers. The two laptops were taken to the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory in Hamilton for full forensic exams. Those exams revealed 265 files of child pornography, including videos and photos.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman commended Deputy Attorneys General Shah and Allende, the detectives who led the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, and the other members of the State Police and the ICAC Task Force who assisted in the investigation and arrest. The prosecuting attorneys were assisted at trial by Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa of the Division of Criminal Justice.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the Internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.