TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former bus driver in Sussex County who transported grade school students was sentenced to prison today for distributing child pornography online. He was arrested in 2016 in “Operation Safeguard,” a child pornography sweep conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the New Jersey State Police.
Eugene Triston, 58, of Stanhope, N.J., a former bus driver for the Sparta School District, was sentenced today to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge William McGovern in Sussex County. Triston pleaded guilty last year to a second-degree charge of distribution of child pornography (knowingly storing or maintaining child pornography in a file-sharing program). He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. In pleading guilty, Triston admitted that he knowingly used file-sharing software to make multiple files containing child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a designated “shared folder” on his computer.
Deputy Attorneys General Brandy Malfitano and Lilianne Daniel prosecuted Triston, and Deputy Attorney General Daniel handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
“While all those who possess and distribute child pornography online promote the sexual exploitation of children by their conduct, it is particularly alarming to find a defendant like Triston who held a job that put him in close contact with children,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Our message to these offenders is that we are patrolling the internet and we will find you and send you to prison for your crimes.”
“Our investigation revealed that this bus driver viewed child pornography during breaks from driving students to elementary school,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Thankfully, we detected his crimes and removed him from his position of trust involving young children.”
“Today when Eugene Triston boarded a bus, it was as a passenger on his way to state prison,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police and our partners will continue to relentlessly scour the internet to locate and arrest deviants who, by sharing these images repeatedly, continue to victimize innocent children long after the actual assaults.”
“Predators like this need to know that interagency cooperation ensures that their heinous activities are being constantly monitored,” said Brian Michael, Special Agent in Charge for HSI, Newark. “HSI’s diverse investigative skills helped capture this individual and bring him to much deserved justice.”
During Operation Safeguard, special agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, and detectives of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit monitored several online file-sharing networks that are popular with offenders who download and trade child pornography. Using advanced technology, the investigators searched for digital “fingerprints” of known child pornography and search terms used by such offenders. Through these and other methods, they identified New Jersey residents who were downloading child pornography and making child pornography available to others in “shared folders” on their computers.
Triston was arrested on Feb. 10, 2016, when investigators conducting Operation Safeguard executed a search warrant at his residence. A detective of the Division of Criminal Justice previously had identified a computer that was sharing child pornography and an agent of HSI downloaded 27 videos and images of child pornography from a shared folder on the computer, including videos of very young children being sexually assaulted. The computer was associated with an IP address that was traced to Triston. During the search, investigators seized a computer belonging to Triston that contained numerous files of child pornography. They also learned that Triston viewed child pornography on breaks between bus runs, which included driving elementary school students. The Byram Police Department assisted in the operation. A full forensic examination of the computer by HSI revealed approximately 150 files of child pornography.
Deputy Attorney General Daniel, former Detective Tiffany Lenart, former Detective Laura Hurley and Detective Richard DaSilva conducted the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, in collaboration with HSI agents and detectives of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or who suspects improper contact by persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Assistant Deputy Public Defender Steven Insley, Sussex County.